Comparison of long-term outcomes between radical esophagectomy and definitive chemoradiotherapy in patients with clinical T1bN0M0 esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Hongbo Zhao, Kazuo Koyanagi, Ken Kato, Yoshinori Ito, Jun Itami, Hiroyasu Igaki, Yuji Tachimori


Background: Long-term outcomes of patients with clinical T1bN0M0 thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) treated using radical esophagectomy were compared with those treated using definitive chemoradiotherapy (dCRT).
Methods: A total of 320 consecutive patients with clinical T1bN0M0 thoracic ESCC who initially underwent radical esophagectomy or chemoradiotherapy during 2001–2011 were deemed eligible. Of these patients, 102 and 218 underwent radical esophagectomy and dCRT, respectively. Overall survival (OS) and causes of death were compared between the esophagectomy group and the chemoradiotherapy group.
Results: Five-year OS in the esophagectomy group was significantly better than that of the chemoradiotherapy group in both the overall sample and a subset of patients aged ≥70 years (P=0.004 and P=0.040). Male patients appeared to benefit more from radical esophagectomy (P=0.005). Until 2006, radical esophagectomy yielded superior results relative to dCRT (P=0.009). However, the survival outcomes after chemoradiotherapy were non-inferior to those after esophagectomy since 2007 (P=0.255). Up to 2006, esophagectomy and chemoradiotherapy groups exhibited significant differences in the causes of death (P=0.024), such that the latter group had a significantly higher rate of deaths due to respiratory complications (P=0.025). However, the introduction of 3-dimensional radiation with CT guided planning in 2007 resolved this inter-group difference (P=0.460).
Conclusions: The appreciable developments in radiation technology have enabled the achievement of comparable long-term outcomes in the chemoradiotherapy group compared with the esophagectomy group in patients with clinical T1bN0M0 thoracic ESCC.