Background: Despite well-established surgical approaches, the prognosis for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus remains dismal. To assess the benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy (CRT), a randomized trial with and without sequential preoperative CRT was undertaken; CRT combined 20 Gy and two courses of 5-FU and cisplatin.
Methods: Patients were included on the basis of the following criteria: squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus, younger than 70 years of age, World Health Organization status below 2, estimated survival time greater than 3 months, and no previous treatment for the cancer. Patients were not included if they had experienced a loss in body weight greater than 15% or had tracheoesophageal fistula, metastases, or uncontrollable infection.
Results: Eighty-six patients thus fulfilled the criteria for inclusion (41 CRT, 45 non-CRT). The groups were well-matched for age, sex, tumor location, size, and grade. Operative mortality was 8.5% and 7%, respectively, for each group with a 27-day hospital stay for both groups. Long-term survival was not significantly different, with 47% of both groups alive at 1 year.
Conclusions: The authors concluded that this neoadjuvant treatment did not change operative mortality or survival time for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.