Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG)

Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common fatal human cancer in the world, with more than 406,000 deaths annually, and the fourth most common new cancer in China. More than half of all esophageal cancer deaths in the world occur in China, due to its large population and high rate of this cancer’s occurrence. North central China has esophageal cancer rates that are among the highest in the country; nearly all of these cases are esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). ESCC is an aggressive tumor that is typically diagnosed only after the onset of symptoms, when prognosis is very poor. One promising strategy to reduce ESCC mortality is early detection, and a better understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying esophageal carcinogenesis and its molecular pathology that will facilitate the development of biomarkers for early detection. CMRP staff supports the overall esophageal and gastric cancers initiative of the NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). Specifically, support is focused on the Esophageal Cancer Precursor Lesion Genomic Study conducted in China. The overall objective of this study is to identify and test strategies to reduce mortality from esophageal and gastric cancer in high-risk populations in China, where rates of these cancers are the highest in the world. CMRP provides programmatic and project management support for the study, which focuses on understanding the molecular underpinnings of premalignant esophageal lesions.