Outcomes from salvage esophagectomy post definitive chemoradiotherapy compared with resection following preoperative neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy.


Chemoradiotherapy (CRT) as a definitive treatment for esophageal cancer, is being used with increasing frequency and as a result, surgeons will be required to assess more patients who have residual or recurrent local malignancy. This article aimed to assess outcomes after esophagectomy following definitive CRT (dCRT) and compare any difference between them and patients who had preoperative neoadjuvant CRT (nCRT) using a similar regimen of chemotherapy. From a prospective database the details of patients who had a resection following nCRT and dCRT were analyzed. The main therapeutic difference between the groups was the dose of radiotherapy (35 vs 60 Gy) and the timing of the resection following completion of the CRT (median 4 vs 28 weeks). Fourteen patients had an esophagectomy following a dCRT and 53 had one following a nCRT. Preoperatively, the dCRT group had worse respiratory function and more ECG abnormalities. Preoperative tumor length, pathological TNM staging and R0 resection rates were the same in both groups. Post resection, the dCRT group had greater morbidity than the nCRT group, spending longer in the intensive care unit (median 48 vs 24 h), more days in hospital (median 31 vs 13) and having more severe respiratory complications (37%vs 6%). The operative mortality was higher in the dCRT group (7%vs 0%). The three-year survival was 24% after dCRT. Patients selected for salvage esophagectomy following dCRT are a major challenge in postoperative care. However, some patients survive for a reasonable period of time, making resection a worthwhile option.


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