Purpose: To evaluate late cardiopulmonary toxicities after concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) for esophageal carcinomas.
Methods and materials: From February 2002 through April 2005, 74 patients with clinical Stage I-IVB carcinoma of the esophagus were treated with CCRT. Sixty-nine patients with thoracic squamous cell carcinoma were the core of this analysis. Patients received 60 Gy of radiation therapy in 30 fractions over 8 weeks, including a 2-week break, and received 2 cycles of fluorouracil/cisplatin chemotherapy concomitantly. Initial radiation fields included primary tumors, metastatic lymph nodes, and supraclavicular, mediastinal, and celiac nodes areas. Late toxicities were assessed with the late radiation morbidity scoring scheme of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group/European Organiation for Research and Treatment of Cancer.
Results: The median age was 67 years (range, 45-83 years). The median follow-up time was 26.1 months for all patients and 51.4 months for patients still alive at the time of analysis. Five cardiopulmonary toxic events of Grade 3 or greater were observed in 4 patients, Grade 5 heart failure and Grade 3 pericarditis in 1 patient, and Grade 3 myocardial infarction, Grade 3 radiation pneumonitis, and Grade 3 pleural effusion. The 2-year cumulative incidence of late cardiopulmonary toxicities of Grade 3 or greater for patients 75 years or older was 29% compared with 3% for younger patients (p = 0.005).
Conclusion: The CCRT used in this study with an extensive radiation field is acceptable for younger patients but is not tolerated by patients older than 75 years.