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AIMS: Combined modality therapy (with chemotherapy+/-radiotherapy) has become a standard treatment for locally advanced oesophageal cancer. However, there appears to be no compelling evidence for one treatment type or combination to suit all and at this time the clinical multi-disciplinary team (MDT) forms an important role in selecting optimal therapies for the individual. This prospective comparison in one cancer network, looks at the outcomes of this decision making process. METHODS: Over a five year period 1998-2003, data were prospectively collected on all 330 consecutive patients, referred to a tertiary specialised MDT for whom curative treatment was the planned intent. Patients were managed according to an agreed local protocol and allocated to receive one of 5 treatments: surgery alone (S), pre-operative chemotherapy (C+S), pre-operative chemo-radiotherapy (CRT+S), definitive chemo-radiotherapy (CRT) and radiotherapy alone (RT). RESULTS: The 2 and 5 year survival for all patients receiving potentially curative treatment were 49% and 26% respectively. With 2 and 5 year survival for S, CRT+S, C+S, CRT and RT being 53,21; 57,40; 37,27; 50,27; 23,0 months respectively. Of the surgical therapies, mortality was highest in the CRT+S group, versus C+S and S; 12.5%, 1.6%, 4.5% respectively (p=0.025). Non-surgical based therapies had more than double the incidence of local relapses compared to surgical based therapies; however the CRT group had an overall survival comparable with S alone. The commonest sites of distant relapse were liver (56%), lung (38%), bone (32%) and non-regional lymph nodes (24%). CONCLUSION: The results suggest that in patients who are deemed unfit for surgical intervention, definitive chemoradiotherapy remains a viable alternative; they also lend further support to selected case triple modality therapy. These areas should be further examined in the context of randomised controlled phase III trials.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Surg Oncol

Publication Date





307 - 313


Aged, Combined Modality Therapy, Esophageal Neoplasms, Esophagectomy, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Postoperative Complications, Proportional Hazards Models, Prospective Studies, Survival Analysis, Treatment Outcome, United Kingdom