Background: This study analyzed the impact on long-term results of an increase in the dosage of an induction chemoradiotherapy protocol for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the thoracic esophagus.
Methods: Two groups were considered among 177 patients who underwent preoperative chemoradiotherapy for SCC of the thoracic esophagus. Group A includes 111 patients (from 1987 to 1995) who were submitted to cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil (two cycles) and radiotherapy (3,000 cGy). Group B includes 66 patients (from 1995 to 2002) in which the doses were raised both in terms of chemotherapy (three cycles) and radiotherapy (5,000 cGy).
Results: The induction treatment was completed in most of the patients (92.1%) with an acceptable treatment-related mortality (2.6%). Surgery was accomplished in 148 patients; 78.4% and 92.4% in groups A and B, respectively (p = 0.015). The postoperative in-hospital mortality was 8.8%. Tumor resection was possible in 91.8% with a better R0-resection rate for group B (83.9%; p = 0.004). Responders represented 34.9% of the patients with 20.1% of "complete" responses (29.5% in group B; p = 0.018). The overall 5-year survival rate was improved in group B (30.2%; p = 0.017), and when survival analysis was restricted to responders (70.1%; p = 0.027).
Conclusions: No differences in feasibility and complication rate were observed during the two study periods. A higher rate of R0-resections was achieved in group B. The increased dosage led to an increased rate of complete responses and to an improved overall 5-year survival.