Esophageal cancer in patients under 50: a SEER analysis

Yuan Zeng, Wenli Ruan, Jun Liu, Wenhua Liang, Jiaxi He, Fei Cui, Hui Pan, Jianxing He


Background: Concomitant with rising rates of esophageal adenocarcinoma, there has been a significant increase of diagnoses among relatively younger individuals. However, most studies that focus on esophageal cancer (EC) in younger patients have had small sample sizes of patients treated at a single institute. The aim of this study was to analyze the clinical characteristics, outcomes and independent prognostic factors for EC in patients under 50-year-old using a large, multi-center dataset.
Methods: The national Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database was analyzed for EC reported from 2004 to 2013. Patients were divided into two groups, those under 50-year-old and those 50 years or older, and comparisons were made regarding demographics, histology, stage distribution, treatment, overall survival (OS), and esophageal cancer-specific survival (ECSS). Multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression analyses were also used to identify independent prognostic factors.
Results: Among the 16,544 eligible patients, 1,385 (8.37%) were under 50 and 15,159 (91.63%) were over 50. Compared with the older group, patients under 50 were characterized by a higher frequency of males, lower esophagus involvement, adenocarcinoma histology, stage III/IV disease, and receiving esophagectomy or radiation therapy. The stage-wise OS and ECSS were significantly better in the younger group (P<0.001). The multivariate analysis indicated that African-American heritage, grade III or IV, later stage, and not undergoing surgical or radiation therapy were independent negative prognostic factors of ECSS for patients under 50.
Conclusions: EC patients under 50-year-old had distinctive clinicopathological characteristics compared with patients over 50-year-old. Despite more often presenting with stage III and IV disease, survival rates were better in the younger cohort. Prognostic factors for ECSS in patients under 50 differed from those in all age patients.