Background: Esophageal cancer is 1 of the 10 most common cancers and is a particular devastating form of cancer worldwide. More than 90% patients with esophageal cancer in Taiwan have squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). In the present study, we assessed the factors affecting survival of patients with esophageal cancer using data from Taiwan, a high-incidence area for esophageal SCC.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 12,482 patients who were newly diagnosed with esophageal cancer from 1998 to 2007. The data were obtained from the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan. Study participants were followed-up until the end of 2008.
Results: Of the 12,482 patients, 11,490 (92.1%) were male with a median age of 60 years, and 992 (7.9%) were female with a median age of 71 years at the time of diagnosis. The overall 1-, 2-, 5-, and 10-year survival rates after diagnosis were 40.3, 22.9, 12.8, and 7.6%, respectively. Among parametric models for esophageal cancer prognosis, male sex, no curative treatment (surgery and/or radiotherapy), old age, and low socioeconomic status were significantly associated with shorter survival. Furthermore, curative treatment with surgery improved the survival of esophageal cancer patients more significantly compared with patients who undergo definite radiotherapy.
Conclusions: Our data indicated that age, sex, and curative treatment were significant predictors of lifetime survival in patients with esophageal cancer. The overall survival rates of patients with esophageal cancer are relatively low, while survival of patients who undergo surgery is improved significantly.