Objective: We sought to determine the effect of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy followed by surgical intervention on health-related quality of life in patients with esophageal cancer.
Methods: Health-related quality of life was evaluated in a prospective phase II study of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy followed by esophagectomy in 52 patients with carcinoma of the esophagus. Esophagectomy was performed 6 weeks after completion of induction. Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Esophageal scoring was performed before treatment, 7 weeks after initiation of neoadjuvant therapy, before resection, and at 1, 3, and 6 months and 1 year after resection.
Results: Forty-three patients completed the entire treatment protocol. Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Esophageal scores decreased significantly after chemoradiation at week 7 (120 vs 127 at baseline, P = .04) but returned to baseline levels before surgical intervention (127). Similarly, scores decreased significantly after surgical intervention (115 at 1 month, P = .02) but returned to baseline levels by 3 months postoperatively (127). At 1 year postoperatively, there was a statistically significant improvement in scores compared with those at baseline (139, P = .003). Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Esophageal scores continued to increase over time for patients who were alive at least 1 year after the operation with or without disease but were observed to significantly decrease in those who died within 1 year after the operation (P = .0001). An increase in quality of life was associated with a significantly lower risk of death (P = .04).
Conclusion: Neoadjuvant therapy has a significant effect on health-related quality of life, but this is transient, with recovery to baseline within 5 to 7 weeks after completion of induction therapy. Health-related quality of life decreases again after surgical intervention but returns to baseline levels within 3 months.