Objective: Aim of this study was to evaluate whether delayed surgery after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (CRT) affects postoperative outcomes in patients with locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the thoracic esophagus. Background: Esophagectomy is usually recommended within 4 to 6 weeks after completion of neoadjuvant CRT. However, the optimal timing of surgery is not clearly defined. Methods: A total of 129 consecutive patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer, treated between 1998 and 2007, were retrospectively analyzed using prospectively collected data. Patients were divided into 3 groups on the basis of timing to surgery: group 1, ≤30 days (n = 17); group 2, 31 to 60 days (n = 83); and group 3, 61 to 90 days (n = 29). Subsequently, only 2-numerically more consistent-groups were studied, using the median value of timing intervals as a cutoff level: group A, ≤46 days (n = 66); and group B, >46 days (n = 63). Results: Groups were comparable in terms of patient and tumor characteristics, type of neoadjuvant regimen, toxicity, postoperative morbidity and mortality rates, tumor downstaging, and pathologic complete responses. The overall 5-year actuarial survival rate was 0% in group 1, 43.1% in group 2, and 35.9% in group 3 (P = 0.13). After R0 resection (n = 106), the 5-year actuarial survival rate was 0%, 51%, and 47.3%, respectively (P = 0.18). Tumor recurrence after R0 resection seemed to be inversely related, even if not significantly (P = 0.17), to the time interval between chemoradiation and surgery: 50% in group 1, 40.6% in group 2, and 21.7% in group 3. When considering only 2 groups, the overall 5-year survival was 33.1% in group A and 42.7% in group B (P = 0.64); after R0 resection, the 5-year survival was 37.8% and 56.3%, respectively (P = 0.18). The rate of tumor recurrence was significantly lower in group B (25%) than in group A (48.3%) (P = 0.02). Conclusion: Delayed surgery after neoadjuvant chemoradiation does not compromise the outcomes of patients with locally advanced SCC of the esophagus. Delaying surgery up to 90 days offers relevant advantages in the clinical management of the patients, can reduce tumor recurrences, and may improve prognosis after complete R0 resection surgery.
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