Multimodality treatment for esophageal cancer: The role of surgery and neoadjuvant therapy

Martin A. Makary, Paul D. Kiernan, Michael J. Sheridan, Glen Tonnesen, Vivian Hetrick, Betty Vaughan, Paula Graling, Eric Elster

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26 Scopus citations


Treatment of esophageal cancer has traditionally included surgery as the initial modality. Neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy has been introduced with the goal of downstaging tumors before surgical resection; however, its role in esophageal cancer remains controversial. We report 116 patients who underwent esophagogastrectomy with reconstruction for carcinoma of the esophagus or esophagogastric junction over a 10-year period (January 1, 1990 to June 1,2001). Forty patients underwent neoadjuvant radiation and chemotherapy followed by surgery. Hospital mortality in this group was 7.5 per cent, complete pathologic response (CPR) was 37.5 per cent, and overall 3- and 5-year survival rates were 47 and 38 per cent. Five-year survival in the 15 patients with CPR was 85 per cent. Five patients underwent neoadjuvant single-agent therapy (four chemotherapy and one radiation) followed by surgery, and none survived to 3 years. Seventy-one patients underwent surgery without neoadjuvant therapy. Hospital mortality in this group was 1.4 per cent, with 3- and 5-year survival of 21 and 17 per cent - a decreased long-term survival compared with the neoadjuvant therapy group despite the observation that patients who underwent neoadjuvant therapy had a larger tumor size on presentation (5.5 ± 0.4 cm vs 3.8 ± 0.2 cm; P = 0.002). Squamous cell carcinomas seemed to be more responsive to neoadjuvant radiation and chemotherapy followed by surgery than were adenocarcinomas, with a CPR of 44.4 versus 35.5 per cent; however, 5-year survival rates in these complete responders were not significantly different (100% and 78%, respectively; P = 0.97). We report that esophagogastrectomy in conjunction with neoadjuvant therapy results in increased survival compared with surgery without neoadjuvant therapy (P < 0.01), although there may be an increased perioperative mortality associated with neoadjuvant therapy. Further studies are needed to evaluate the role of preoperative chemoradiation and to better identify the pretreatment characteristics of patients with a complete pathological response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-700
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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