Comparing proton to photon radiation therapy for esophageal cancer

Currently Available for Patients



About This Study

NRG-GI006 is a clinical trial that is studying proton therapy as the type of radiation treatment for this disease, to see if this treatment does or does not improve survival and decrease side effects when compared to the current usual treatment for people with esophageal cancer. Typically, the usual treatment for people who have this type of cancer is a combination of photon radiation therapy and chemotherapy followed by surgery. Proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy that uses protons, or positively charged particles, rather than x-rays to treat cancer. Both photon (x-ray) and proton therapies precisely deliver radiation to the tumor without damaging much of the tissue around it and have been tested for safety; however, researchers want to know if the proton based treatment works better than the other.

More information about this particular study is located on 


Am I eligible for this study?

If you are over the age of 18 with esophageal cancer, you may be able to participate. Your healthcare team is the best source for information about your treatment options, including cancer clinical trials. Be sure to take this information to your doctor to discuss your questions and concerns in general and specific to the NRG-GI006 study.


Are there other studies for which I might be eligible?

Please talk to your healthcare team to see if there are other clinical studies for which you may be a good fit. Click here if you would like to view a more detailed chart of other studies available.


Find a Study Location

Are you interested in joining the study? Find a participating location


Want more information?

Additional information for the NRG-GI006 study can be found in the Patient Study Brochure. Download the brochure here



Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you can find FAQs about clinical research and this particular clinical trial.

NRG-GI006 Study FAQ

If you are over the age of 18 with esophageal cancer, you may be able to participate.
This study is being done to determine if proton therapy can increase survival and decrease side effects compared to the usual photon radiation therapy for your esophageal cancer.

We are doing this study because we want to find out if this approach is better or worse than the usual approach for your esophageal cancer. The usual approach is defined as care most people get for esophageal cancer.
Participants on this trial will be randomly assigned to one of two possible study groups. Group 1 will receive proton radiation therapy with the usual chemotherapy. Group 2 will receive photon radiation therapy along with the usual chemotherapy. If eligible for surgery, participants in both groups will receive surgery to remove their cancer 4-8 weeks after radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
The usual approach for patients who are not in a study is treatment with chemotherapy and photon radiation therapy followed by surgery. There are several chemotherapy drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that are commonly used with the radiation therapy. For patients who get the usual approach for this cancer, about 35 out of 100 are free of cancer after 5 years.
If you choose to take part in this study, there is a risk that:

  • You may lose time at work or home and spend more time in the hospital or doctor’s office than usual. 
  • You may be asked sensitive or private questions which you normally do not discuss. 
  • The study approach may not be as good as the usual approach for your cancer at shrinking or stabilizing your cancer and preventing your cancer from spreading. 
  • The study approach used on this trial may cause side effects. Your doctor will review all of the potential side effects with you. It is important to tell your doctor about any side effects during the study so that they may be treated and so that potential adjustments to the study drugs may be made.
There is evidence that proton radiation therapy is effective in shrinking your type of cancer. It is not possible to know now if the study approach will extend your life compared to the usual approach. This study will help the study doctors learn things that will help people in the future.
Groups 1 and 2 will both receive radiation and chemotherapy for approximately 6 weeks. 4-8 weeks after the completion of chemotherapy and radiation, participants will have their cancer surgically removed if they are a candidate for surgery. Your doctor will check in with you every 3 to 6 months for up to 3 years following treatment, then once a year for the rest of your life to follow your condition and watch for side effects.
No. Taking part in this study is voluntary. You are free to choose to participate or not to participate. If you choose to participate in this study, you are able to leave the study at any time. If you decide not to take part in this study, your doctor will discuss other treatment options with you.
You and/or your insurance plan will need to pay for the costs of medical care you get as part of the study, just as you would if you were getting the usual care for your cancer.

This includes:

  • the costs of tests, exams, procedures, and drugs that you get during the study to monitor your safety, and prevent and treat side effects. 
  • your insurance co-pays and deductibles.

Talk to your insurance provider and make sure that you understand what your insurance pays for and what it doesn’t pay for if you take part in this clinical trial. Also, find out if you need approval from your plan before you can take part in the study.

You will not be paid for taking part in this study.
Your privacy is very important to us and the researchers will make every effort to protect it. Your information may be given out if required by law. For example, certain states require doctors to report to health boards if they find a disease like tuberculosis. However, the researchers will do their best to make sure that any information that is released will not identify you. Some of your health information and/or information about your specimens from this study will be kept in a central database for research. Your name or contact information will not be put in the database.

There are organizations that may inspect your records. These organizations are required to make sure your information is kept private, unless required by law to provide information. Some of these organizations are:

  • NRG Oncology (study sponsor). 
  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Central Investigation Review Board (IRB), which is a group of people who review the research with the goal of protecting the people who take part in the study. 
  • The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the groups it works with to review research. 
  • The NCI and the groups it works with to review research. 
  • The NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network and the groups it works with to conduct research, including the Imaging and Radiation Oncology Core (IROC).

Clinical Studies FAQ

Doctors and researchers conduct a clinical study, also called a “clinical trial,” to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat an illness. NRG Oncology is supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and runs clinical studies specifically for patients with cancer or to prevent cancer. Most clinical studies test something we know against something we don’t know. In all situations, these studies are strictly evaluated before they are allowed to be offered to any patient. The study is designed to answer the question that we do not know the answer to, so that current and future patients may have better treatments or information than what we currently have. There are different types of clinical studies that might be available for patients. For more information see Types of Clinical Trials” and “Phases of Clinical Trials”.

Patients who volunteer to take part in a clinical study are followed closely by their health care professionals and members of the research team. For more information see Research Team Members”.

Yes. They are exactly the same thing.
The care cancer doctors provide to cancer patients today is the direct result of clinical studies (also known as clinical trials) that were done in the past. Clinical studies give doctors and the treatment team information about what types of treatments work and what treatments do not work, in a number of different situations. Some studies focus on treating the cancer, others on preventing the cancer, and others on helping patients feel better or healthier during or after treatments. When you take part in a clinical study, you add to our knowledge about cancer and it may help improve cancer care for future patients. Clinical studies are available to patients with many types of cancer and at all stages of treatment. In some situations, the only way to get these new treatments is by joining a clinical study.
A clinical study may take place in many locations, such as:

  • physician offices
  • hospitals
  • clinics

  • A study is typically led by a principal investigator who is a doctor or other advanced health care professional. A clinical study is carried out by following a very specific plan known as the “protocol”. The protocol is designed so all patients in the study are treated as well as possible and in the same way. The protocol also provides rules for the doctors and clinical study staff to follow to keep patients safe and make sure the study is run in an ethical manner.
    No, not at all. Participation in a clinical study is completely voluntary. For more information see “Deciding to Take Part in a Clinical Trial”. You are free to choose to participate or not to participate. If you choose to participate in a study, you may still decide to leave the study at any time. If you decide not to participate in a study, your doctor will discuss other treatment options with you. For more information see “Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Treatment Clinical Trials".

    If you decide not to take part in a clinical study, you still have other choices. Talk to your doctor about your other choices.For example:

    • You may choose to have the usual treatment approach (known as “standard of care”)
    • You may choose to take part or learn more about a different study, if one is available
    • You may choose not to be treated for cancer

    About NRG Oncology

    At NRG Oncology, we focus on conducting clinical studies aimed to improve current cancer care practices and the lives of cancer patients. NRG Oncology partners with more than 1,300 member sites world-wide to research ways to improve treatment standards in the cancer community. Our organization is supported primarily through grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and is one of five research groups in the NCI's National Clinical Trial's Network.