Radiation therapy is most effective for carcinomas of the upper third of the esophagus (cervical portion) and for Stage III and IV cancers. Radiation is also used to maintain patency of the lumen and to treat metastases. More recently, there has been research on the benefits of radiation combined with 5-FU and Mitomycin C chemotherapy for local control of dysphagia. Adenocarcinomas of the esophagus are not as radiosensitive as squamous cell carcinomas.
Gastric cancer does not respond readily to radiation therapy for cure; although it can be used for palliative treatment, metastases to bone or brain, or to deter gastric hemorrhage.