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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2010 May 1;77(1):44-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2009.04.053. Epub 2009 Aug 11.

Influence of irradiated lung volumes on perioperative morbidity and mortality in patients after neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy for esophageal cancer.

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Department of Radiooncology and Radiotherapy, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.



In some randomized trials, the treatment outcome of locally advanced esophageal cancer has been significantly improved by neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy (RCT). However, increased perioperative pulmonary toxicity in terms of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has been linked to radiation exposure of the lungs. In our study we evaluated perioperative morbidity and mortality in patients with cancer Stages IIA-IVA treated with curative intent either with surgery alone (S) or with neoadjuvant RCT followed by surgery (RCTS).


Between 1996 and 2003, 55 patients received S, and 98 received RCTS. In the RCTS group, most patients received two cycles of 5-fluorouracil plus cisplatinum simultaneously with normofractionated radiotherapy (40Gy). Four weeks later they underwent surgery. Endpoints were the incidence of acute lung injury (ALI), ARDS, other postoperative complications, and mortality within 31 days.


Between both groups there were no significant differences between the incidence and severity of ALI and ARDS (RCTS: 42.9%, 42.9%; S: 45.5%, 38.2%). Furthermore, there were no significant differences in the incidences of pneumonia, pleural effusion, and pneumothorax (RCTS 29.6% vs. S 16.4%, p = 0.07). Perioperative complication rates and mortality did not vary significantly (mortality after RCTS 5.1% vs. S 3.6%). A detailed analysis of 54 RCTS patients according to lung dose-volume histograms did not show any correlation between ARDS and pulmonary exposure. In univariate analysis, only respiratory comorbidity correlated with ARDS.


Neoadjuvant cisplatinum and 5-fluorouracil-based RCT apparently has no detrimental impact on the postoperative course.

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