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The national practice for patients receiving radiation therapy for carcinoma of the esophagus: results of the 1996-1999 Patterns of Care Study.

Suntharalingam M, et al. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2003.


PURPOSE: A Patterns of Care Study (PCS) was conducted to evaluate the standards of practice for patients receiving radiation therapy for esophageal cancer from 1996 to 1999. This study examined the evaluation and treatment schemes used during this time and compared these results to the PCS data obtained between 1992 and 1994 to identify any fundamental changes in national practice.

METHODS: A national survey was conducted using a two-stage cluster sampling technique. Specific information was collected on 414 patients with esophageal cancer who received radiotherapy (RT) as part of definitive or adjuvant management at 59 institutions. Patients were staged according to the 1983 AJCC. Eligibility criteria for case review included RT between 1996 and 1999, no evidence of distant metastasis (including CT evidence of either supraclavicular or celiac nodes >1 cm), squamous cell or adenocarcinoma histology, Karnofsky performance status >60, tumors in the thoracic esophagus with <2 cm extension into the stomach, and no prior malignancies within the last 5 years. Statistical analysis was performed on the database using SUDAAN software to accurately reflect the type of sampling technique used by PCS. For the purpose of this analysis, institutions were stratified as either large or small based on the number of new cases seen each year. For the purposes of comparison, the 1992-1994 PCS esophageal survey results were subjected to the same statistical procedures and tests.

RESULTS: The median age of patients was 64 years. Seventy-seven percent were male, and 23% were female. Karnofsky performance status was >or=80% in 85% of patients. The racial profile mirrors the previous survey with 75% Caucasian, 21% African-American, 3% Asian, and <1% Hispanic. A review of the histology revealed a nearly 50:50 split between squamous cell and adenocarcinoma. Sixteen percent were clinical Stage I, 39% clinical Stage II, and 33% clinical Stage III according to the 1983 AJCC system. Workup included endoscopy (96%), CT of the chest (87%), CT of the abdomen (75%), and esophagram (64%). Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) was used in 18% of cases as compared to <2% in the original survey (p < 0.0001). Patients treated at large centers were more likely to undergo EUS than those treated at small centers (23% vs. 12%, p = 0.047). Fifty-six percent of patients received concurrent chemoradiation as definitive treatment. There was a significant increase in the use of concurrent chemoradiation before planned surgical resection as compared to the original survey (27% vs. 10%, p = 0.007). Other schemes included RT alone (10%), postoperative RT (1%), and postoperative chemoradiation (5%). Forty-six percent of patients with adenocarcinoma underwent trimodality therapy as compared to 19% with squamous cell carcinomas (p = 0.0002). Patients undergoing preoperative chemoradiation were more likely to have had an EUS. The median total dose of external RT was 50.4 Gy, and the median dose per fraction was 1.8 Gy. Brachytherapy was used in 6% of cases. The chemotherapy agents most commonly used included 5-fluorouracil (82%), cisplatin (67%), and paclitaxel (22%). Paclitaxel was more commonly employed as part of a preoperative chemoradiation regimen than in the setting of definitive chemoradiation (46% vs. 12%, p = 0.03). Compared to the original survey, paclitaxel use significantly increased between 1996 and 1999 (0.2% vs. 22%, p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The Patterns of Care Survey confirms the use of concurrent chemoradiation as part of the national standards of practice for the management of esophageal cancer patients. A comparison with the previous study documents the significant rise in the use of EUS, preoperative chemoradiation followed by surgery, and the increasing use of paclitaxel as part of a combined modality regimen.


12829133 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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