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Dis Esophagus. 2010 May;23(4):316-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2050.2009.01014.x. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Toxicity and outcomes after chemoradiation for esophageal cancer in patients age 75 or older.

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  • 1Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Randomized trials of chemoradiation for esophageal cancer have included very few patients age > or = 75. In this retrospective study, we describe the outcomes and toxicity of full-dose chemoradiation in elderly patients with esophageal cancer. Patients, age > or = 75, treated with full-dose chemoradiation for esophageal carcinoma from 2002 to 2008 were retrospectively reviewed. Thirty-four patients were identified with a median age of 79.5 (range 75-89). The median Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status was 1 (range 0-3) and the median Adult Comorbidity Evaluation-27 score was 1 (range 0-3). Twenty-eight patients received definitive and six received neoadjuvant chemoradiation. The median radiation dose delivered was 50.4 Gray (range 3.6-68.4 Gray). Platinum-based chemotherapy was used in 79.4% of patients. Fifty percent of the patients completed all planned radiation therapy (RT) and chemotherapy; 85.3% completed RT. Acute toxicity > or = grade 4 occurred in 38.2% of patients, and 70.6% of the patients required hospitalization, emergency department visit, and/or RT break. Median follow-up was 14.5 months among 7 survivors, and median survival was 12.0 months (95% confidence interval [CI]: 9.7 to 24.1 months). The actuarial overall survival at 2 years was 29.7% (95% CI: 16.6 to 52.6%). There were four treatment-related deaths. The median time to any recurrence was 10.4 months. Nineteen patients had a local and/or distant recurrence. In conclusion, elderly patients experienced substantial morbidity from chemoradiation, and long-term survival was low. Future efforts to improve treatment tolerability in the elderly are needed.

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