Neoadjuvant Therapy for Esophageal Cancer: Standard of Care or Elusive Myth?

Boyle, M.J.; Franceschi, D.; Robinson, D.S.; Livingstone, A.S.
October 2001
American Surgeon;Oct2001, Vol. 67 Issue 10, p956
Academic Journal
Although surgical resection as the sole treatment modality for esophageal carcinoma has historically been associated with poor survival rates, improvements have recently been reported using varied neoadjuvant chemo-radiation protocols. This study evaluates the outcome of patients undergoing surgery for esophageal carcinoma at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital between July 1991 and June 1996. Seventy-two patients underwent esophageal resection; 51 males and 21 females with a median age of 62.5 years (range = 42-82). Histology was equally distributed between adenocarcinoma (36 patients; 50%) and squamous cell carcinoma (36 patients; 50%). Pathological stage distribution consisted of 6 stage 0 (8%), 10 stage I (14%), 23 stage II (32%), 31 stage III (43%), and 2 stage IV (3%) lesions. Patients were divided into three groups according to the type of preoperative treatment; Group 1 (n = 44); surgery alone; Group 2 (n = 18); neoadjuvant 5-fluorouracil based chemotherapy, and Group 3 (n = 9); neoadjuvant 5-fluorouracil based chemotherapy in conjunction with external beam radiation (XRT). One patient received preoperative XRT alone. All survivors were followed for a minimum of 1 year and statistical analysis was performed using Kaplan-Meier curves, log-rank, and chi-square tests. In the 28 patients receiving any form of neoadjuvant therapy only one patient had a pathological complete response (CR) (3.5%). The overall 5 year and median survival rates were 18 per cent and 20.5 months (range = 0-73), respectively. Individual treatment group survival rates at 5 years were 28% for Group 1; 21% for Group 2; and 0% for Group 3, showing no survival difference between Groups 1 and 2; Group 3 fared significantly worse than the other two, probably as a result of the high operative mortality in this group. These results indicate that surgical resection continues to be an important treatment modality for esophageal carcinoma. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy in our exp...


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