Background: Concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) is the standard treatment for advanced esophageal cancer, but it may be more invasive in the elderly and definitive radiotherapy (RT) alone may be selected. This study assessed the significance of sequential chemoradiotherapy (SCRT) in elderly esophageal cancer patients.
Methods: We reviewed 87 patients aged 75 years and older, who were treated using definitive radiotherapy without concurrent chemotherapy for esophageal cancer. A total dose ranging from 50.4 to 63 Gy (median, 58.8) was delivered to the primary lesion and the involved lymph nodes. This study compared patients who received SCRT with those who received RT alone among 40 patients with stage III or IVA cancer. Descriptive statistics were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression analysis and the generalized Wilcoxon test.
Results: The total progression-free survival (TPFS), progression-free survival outside the irradiation field, and overall survival were significantly longer after SCRT (n = 15) than after definitive RT alone (n = 25; P = 0.0041 and 0.0098), whereas the progression-free survival in the irradiation field was not significantly different between the two groups. The TPFS was significantly shorter in patients who received RT alone than in those who received SCRT (P = 0.0372). There were no grade 4 or higher adverse events in the patients who received SCRT.
Conclusion: SCRT was associated with a reduced relapse rate, suggesting that it should be considered for markedly elderly patients with advanced esophageal cancer.
Keywords: Advanced esophageal cancer; markedly elderly; sequential chemoradiotherapy..