Aim: To investigate the role of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in prognosis and surgery for esophageal carcinoma by a meta-analysis.
Methods: PubMed and manual searches were done to identify all published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy plus surgery (CRTS) with surgery alone (S) for esophageal cancer. According to the test of heterogeneity, a fixed-effect model or a random effect model was used and the odds ratio (OR) was the principal measure of effects.
Results: Fourteen RCTs that included 1737 patients were selected with quality assessment ranging from A to C (Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook 4.2.2). OR (95% CI, P value), expressed as CRTS vs S (values > 1 favor CRTS arm), was 1.19 (0.94-1.48, P = 0.28) for 1-year survival, 1.33 (1.07-1.65, P = 0.69) for 2-year survival, 1.76 (1.42-2.19, P = 0.11) for 3-year survival, 1.41 (1.06-1.87, P = 0.11) for 4-year survival, 1.64 (1.28-2.12, P = 0.40) for 5-year survival, 0.82 (0.39-1.73, P < 0.0001) for rate of resection, 1.53 (1.33-2.84, P = 0.007) for rate of complete resection, 1.78 (1.14-2.78, P = 0.79) for operative mortality, 1.12 (0.89-2.48, P = 0.503) for all treatment mortality, 1.33 (0.94-1.88, P = 0.04) for the rate of adverse treatment, 1.38 (1.23-1.63, P = 0.0002) for local-regional cancer recurrence, 1.28 (0.85-1.58, P = 0.60) for distant cancer recurrence, and 1.27 (0.86-1.65, P = 0.19) for all cancer recurrence. A complete pathological response to chemoradiotherapy occurred in 10%-45.5% of patients. The 5-year survival benefit was most pronounced when chemotherapy and radiotherapy were given concurrently (OR: 1.45, 95% CI: 1.26-1.79, P = 0.015) instead of sequentially (OR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.64-1.35, P = 0.26).
Conclusion: Compared with surgery alone, neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy can improve the long-term survival and reduce local-regional cancer recurrence. Concurrent administration of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy was superior to sequential chemoradiotherapy.