Neoadjuvant versus definitive chemoradiation in locally advanced esophageal cancer for patients of advanced age or significant comorbidities

Garrett L. Jensen, Kendall P. Hammonds, Waqar Haque

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The addition of surgery to chemoradiation for esophageal cancer has not shown a survival benefit in randomized trials. Patients with more comorbidities or advanced age are more likely to be given definitive chemoradiation due to surgical risk. We aimed to identify subsets of patients in whom the addition of surgery to chemoradiation does not provide an overall survival (OS) benefit. The National Cancer Database was queried for patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer who received either definitive chemoradiation or neoadjuvant chemoradiation followed by surgery. Bivariate analysis was used to assess the association between patient characteristics and treatment groups. Log-rank tests and Cox proportional hazards models were performed to assess for differences in survival. A total of 15,090 with adenocarcinoma and 5,356 with squamous cell carcinoma met the inclusion criteria. Patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation and surgery had significantly improved survival by Cox proportional hazards model regardless of histology if <50, 50-60, 61-70, or 71-80 years old. There was no significant benefit or detriment in patients 81-90 years old. Survival advantage was also significant with a Charlson/Deyo comorbidity condition score of 0, 1, 2, and ≥3 in adenocarcinoma squamous cell carcinoma with scores of 2 or ≥3 had no significant benefit or detriment. Patients 81-90 years old or with squamous cell carcinoma and a Charlson/Deyo comorbidity score ≥ 2 lacked an OS benefit from neoadjuvant chemoradiation followed by surgery compared with definitive chemoradiation. Careful consideration of esophagectomy-specific surgical risks should be used when recommending treatment for these patients.


  • elderly
  • esophagectomy
  • performance status
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Esophagectomy/adverse effects
  • Survival Rate
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary/etiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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