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Int J Clin Oncol. 2011 Aug;16(4):359-65. doi: 10.1007/s10147-011-0192-8. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Risk factors and clinical courses of chemoradiation-related arterio-esophageal fistula in esophageal cancer patients with clinical invasion of the aorta.

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  • 1Division of Gastrointestinal Oncology, Shizuoka Cancer Center, Sunto-gun, Shizuoka, 411-8777, Japan.



Although concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is a standard treatment for esophageal cancer invading adjacent structures (T4-EC), arterio-esophageal fistula (AEF) occurs occasionally as a critical adverse event of T4-EC with CRT. The frequency, clinical course, and risk factors of AEF related to CRT are not well known.


We retrospectively analyzed 48 patients with T4-EC invasion of the aorta who were treated with 5-fluorouracil, cisplatin, and concurrent radiotherapy at our institution between September 2002 and April 2009. Treatment-related AEF was defined as AEF without obvious tumor progression. We evaluated the frequency, clinical courses, and risk factors of AEF.


The median survival time was 10.6 months with a median follow-up time of 33.3 months. The 2-year survival rate was 25%. Treatment-related AEF was observed in 7 patients (14.6%) and 4 of them died of massive bleeding due to aortic AEF. In the other 3 patients with non-aortic AEF, hemorrhage could be arrested by transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE). In the univariate analysis of risk factors for AEF, lower serum cholesterol level was a risk factor for AEF (OR 14.7; 95% CI 1.58-137; P = 0.008).


Although CRT has a curative potential even for patients with T4-EC invading the aorta, we should be aware of the relatively high incidence of treatment-related AEF. TAE may be successful in rescuing a non-aortic AEF patient. Low serum cholesterol level may be a risk factor for AEF, but further investigation is needed.

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