Locally advanced esophageal carcinoma: is there still a role of surgery alone without neoadjuvant treatment?

J Gastrointest Surg. 2015 Apr;19(4):587-93. doi: 10.1007/s11605-015-2762-y. Epub 2015 Feb 5.


Objective: The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of upfront surgery without neoadjuvant pretreatment on survival in patients with clinically staged locally advanced esophageal carcinoma before the new era of neoadjuvant therapy regimes.

Material and methods: This is a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data of patients with clinically advanced esophageal cancer (cT3) and without neoadjuvant treatment who underwent transthoracic esophagectomy (TTE) in curative intent between 1992 and 2009. Locally advanced esophageal cancer was defined based on presurgical computertomography, endoscopy, and endosonography findings as a tumor infiltrating the paraesophageal tissue or the adjacent structures, with or without lymph node affection.

Results: Histological subtypes included 131 squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and 81 adenocarcinomas (AC). Complete resection (R0) was achieved in 84.0% of all 212 patients. Thirty-day mortality rate was 7.1%. Final pathology revealed 50 patients (23.5%) with pT1 or pT2 carcinomas which were preoperatively overstaged. Median overall survival following TTE for SCC was 13.7 months (95% CI; 10.1-17.2 months) and 24.8 months (95% CI; 14.5-35.1 months) for AC, respectively (p = 0.007). The 5-year survival rates were 14% for SCC and 26% for AC, respectively. In median, 27 lymph nodes were resected. On multivariable analyses, histological type, tumor localization, tumor grading, and resection status remained independent factors influencing overall survival.

Conclusion: Our results in the treatment of patients with locally advanced esophageal carcinoma undergoing primary TTE are comparable to the results reported for patients undergoing neoadjuvant chemo-radio-therapy followed by surgery in the pre-CROSS-study era. Histological subtypes show different survival rates and should therefore be separately examined in future trials.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Esophagectomy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate