Purpose: To investigate whether a combination of self-expanding metal stent (SEMS) and brachytherapy provided more rapid and prolonged effect on dysphagia without increased pain compared to brachytherapy alone in patients with incurable oesophageal cancer.
Methods: 41 Patients were randomised to SEMS followed by brachytherapy, 8 Gy×3 (n=21) or brachytherapy alone, 8 Gy×3 (n=20). Change in dysphagia and pain three and seven weeks after randomisation (FU1 and FU2) was assessed by patient-reported outcome. Dysphagia, other symptoms and health-related quality of life were assessed every four weeks thereafter. The study was closed before the estimated patient-number was reached due to slow recruitment.
Results: Patients receiving SEMS followed by brachytherapy had significantly improved dysphagia at FU1 compared to patients receiving brachytherapy alone (n=35). Difference in pain was not observed. At FU2, patients in both arms (n=21) had less dysphagia. Four patients in the combined treatment arm experienced manageable complications, no complications occurred after brachytherapy alone.
Conclusion: For the relief of dysphagia, SEMS followed by brachytherapy is preferable and safe for patients in need of immediate alleviation, while brachytherapy with or without preceding SEMS provides relief within a few weeks after treatment.
Keywords: Brachytherapy; Dysphagia; Oesophageal neoplasm; Quality of life; Randomised trial; Stent.
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