It’s no secret that more mathematics, data, and technology are being used to drive advances within healthcare and medicine. For example, we’ve seen the heightened use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in understanding or evaluating disease progression over the past few years. Now, shares an article from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), Assistant Professor and mathematician Souvik Roy is working to analyze esophageal cancer progression using mathematical modeling.
Roy received a $215K grant from the National Science Foundation’s LEAPS-MPS program to mathematically model biomarker behaviors and altered genetic expressions in patients with esophageal cancer. The goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of how someone’s cancer is progressing, while also offering therapeutic recommendations. This is especially important given how lethal this form of cancer can be. Since many people with esophageal cancer don’t show signs until later stages, these mathematical models could significantly improve patient outcomes if they were found to be efficacious.
In this case, Roy hopes to create stochastic computational frameworks which can highlight signaling pathway behavior. Through this, scientists and clinicians could understand esophageal cancer behavior over a period of time, as well as offer recommended treatment options. Roy’s grant lasts for two years – so we will definitely be waiting to see what he comes up with!
Esophageal Cancer: An Overview
As its name suggests, esophageal cancer begins in esophageal tissue. Normally, the esophagus helps move the food from the throat to the stomach to be digested. In esophageal cancer, cancerous cells form in the inner esophageal layer and typically spread outwards. This can make it difficult to swallow, among other health impacts. There are various forms of esophageal cancer, including adenocarcinoma, sarcoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Esophageal cancer is more common in males than females. Additional risk factors include smoking, acid reflux, Barrett’s esophagus, obesity, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Symptoms related to this cancer can (but do not always) include:
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Chronic cough
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Bone pain
- Esophageal obstruction
- Unintended weight loss