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 [glossary term:] 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.