Background: Patients with esophageal cancer seldom achieve long-term survival. This prospective cohort study investigated the selection of patients likely to benefit from curative treatment and whether information on patients' health-related quality of life (HRQL) would assist treatment decisions in the multidisciplinary team.
Methods: Consecutive patients completed HRQL assessments and clinical data were collected before start of treatment. Logistic regression analyses identified clinical factors associated with treatment intent in patients with stage-III disease. Kaplan-Meier method was used for survival analyses and Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess the impact of clinical factors and HRQL on survival in patients planned for curative treatment.
Results: Patients with curative treatment intent (n = 90) were younger, had better WHO performance status and less fatigue than patients with palliative treatment intent (n = 89). Median survival for the total cohort (n = 179) and patients with palliative or curative treatment intent was nine, five and 19 months, respectively. In multivariate Cox regression analyses, performance status (0-1 favorable) and comorbidity (ASA I favorable) were factors of importance for survival, whereas measures of HRQL were not.
Conclusions: Patients performance status and comorbidity must be considered in addition to stage of disease to avoid extensive curative treatment in patients with short life expectancy. This study did not provide evidence to support that information on patients HRQL adds value to the multidisciplinary team's treatment decision process.