Stent insertion or endoluminal brachytherapy as palliation of patients with advanced cancer of the esophagus and gastroesophageal junction. Results of a randomized, controlled clinical trial

Dis Esophagus. 2005;18(3):131-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2050.2005.00467.x.


Esophageal cancer often presents as advanced stage disease with a dismal prognosis, with only 10-15% of patients surviving 5 years. Therefore, in a large proportion of patients, palliative treatment is the only option available. The aim of this study was to prospectively compare the palliative effect of self-expandable stent placement with that of endoluminal brachytherapy regarding the effect on quality of life and on specific symptoms. Sixty-five patients with advanced cancer of the esophagus or gastroesophageal junction were randomized to treatment with either an Ultraflex expandable stent or high-dose-rate endoluminal brachytherapy with 7 Gy x 3 given in 2-4 weeks. Clinical assessment and health-related quality of life (HRQL) were measured at inclusion and 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months later. The HRQL was measured with standardized questionnaires (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Oesophageal Module and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Twenty-eight patients completed the stent treatment and 24 patients the brachytherapy. The group of patients treated with stent reported significantly better HRQL scores for dysphagia (P < 0.05) at the 1-month follow-up, but most other HRQL scores, including functioning and symptom scales, deteriorated. Among brachytherapy-treated patients, improvement was found for the dysphagia-related scores at the 3-months follow-up, whereas other significant changes of scores were few. The median survival time was comparable in the two groups (around 120 days). In conclusion, insertion of self-expandable metal stents offered a more instant relief of dysphagia compared to endoluminal brachytherapy, but HRQL was more stable in the brachytherapy group.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brachytherapy / methods*
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / complications
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Esophagogastric Junction*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prosthesis Implantation / instrumentation*
  • Quality of Life
  • Stents