Hypothesis: Long-term survival is rare in patients treated for esophageal carcinoma. Several clinical trials suggest the possibility of prolonged survival in patients who undergo induction chemoradiotherapy plus esophagectomy.
Design: Prospective uncontrolled study.
Setting: University hospital.
Patients and methods: Forty-four patients with carcinoma of the esophagus or gastroesophageal junction were prospectively entered into a phase II trial of preoperative 5-fluorouracil, cisplatin, and interferon alfa with concurrent external beam radiotherapy before esophagectomy. Curative resection was performed on 36 of 41 patients who completed the induction chemoradiotherapy.
Results: Of the 44 patients, 17 are alive at a median follow-up of 50 months. Of these 17 patients, 15 show no evidence of recurrent disease. Of the 14 patients with long-term survival (> or =3 years), 1 patient died of disease, and another patient is alive with disease. The remaining 12 patients are alive and disease-free (median follow-up, 54 months). Six patients have survived longer than 4 years and 3 patients longer than 5 years. Subsequent primary tumors have developed in 2 patients. One patient had a recurrence at 11 months following initiation of treatment and remains disease-free 43 months postresection of a single brain metastasis. Standard clinicopathologic parameters (age, sex, histologic findings, chemoradiotherapy regimen, and clinical and pathologic stages) were not significantly associated with a survival time of 3 years or longer (Fisher exact test, 2-tailed). Although not significant, p 53 mutational status suggested long-term survival. In 11 of 14 patients who are alive with no history of recurrence, p53 genotyping demonstrated no point mutations in 10 patients. Median survival time for the long-term survivors has not been reached.
Conclusions: Long-term survival can be achieved in patients with esophageal carcinoma who undergo induction chemoradiotherapy and esophagectomy. Recurrence is unlikely in patients who survive for 3 years or longer after undergoing this multimodality treatment.