Background/aims: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been adapted to the endoscopic treatment of digestive cancer, but its indications and efficacy remain uncertain. The aim of this study was to assess its feasibility in the curative treatment of small esophageal tumors.
Methods: From 1983 to 1991, PDT was used to treat 123 patients with esophageal cancer who were recommended for nonsurgical treatment of squamous cell carcinoma (n = 104) and adenocarcinoma (n = 19). Endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) was performed in 88 patients; 61 were staged uT1 and 27 were staged uT2. A hematoporphyrin derivative was injected 72 hours before laser irradiation with a 630-nm dye laser. PDT was applied alone in 56 patients and as part of a multimodal protocol in the 67 others.
Results: The complete response rate at 6 months was 87%. The 5-year survival rate was 25% +/- 6%, and the 5-year disease-specific survival rate was 74% +/- 5%. The complete response rate and survival rate were not different (1) between the PDT alone and the PDT multimodal treatment groups, (2) between the adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma groups, and (3) between the uT1 and uT2 EUS groups. PDT-related complications were esophageal stenosis (n = 43) and cutaneous photosensitization (n = 16).
Conclusions: In patients with small esophageal tumors who pose high surgical risk, photodynamic therapy is an effective treatment.