Salvage radiotherapy in patients with recurrent esophageal carcinoma

K. Fakhrian, N. Gamisch, T. Schuster, R. Thamm, M. Molls, H. Geinitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose. The feasibility and effectiveness of radiotherapy in the management of recurrent esophageal carcinoma (REC) is reported.Patients and methods. A consecutive cohort of 54 patients with rcT1-4, rcN0-1, or cM0 recurrent esophageal carcinoma (69% squamous cell carcinoma, 31% adenocarcinoma) was treated between 1988 and 2010. The initial treatment for these patients was definitive radiochemotherapy, surgery alone, or neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy + surgical resection in 8 (15%), 33 (61%), and 13 (24%) patients, respectively. The median time to recurrence from initial treatment was 19 months (range 4-79 months). The site of the recurrence was anastomotic or local, nodal, or both in 63%, 30%, and 7% of patients, respectively. Salvage radio(chemo)therapy was carried out with a median dose of 45 Gy (range 30-68 Gy).Results. Median follow-up time for surviving patients from the start of R(C)T was 38 months (range 10-105 months). Relief of symptoms was achieved in 19 of 28 symptomatic patients (68%). The median survival time was 12 months (95% confidence interval (CI) 7-17 months) and the median recurrence-free interval was 8 months (95% CI 4-12 months). The survival rates at 1, 2, and 3 years were 55 ± 7%, 29 ± 6%, and 19 ± 5%, respectively. The recurrence-free survival rates at 1, 2, and 3 years were 44 ± 7%, 22 ± 6%, and 15 ± 5%, respectively. A radiation dose ≥ 45 Gy and conformal RT were associated with a better prognosis.Conclusion. RT is feasible and effective in the management of recurrent esophageal carcinoma, especially for relief of symptoms. Toxicity is in an acceptable range. The outcome of REC is poor; however, long-term survival of patients with recurrent esophageal carcinoma after radiochemotherpy might be possible, even with a previous history of radiotherapy in the initial treatment. If re-irradiation of esophageal carcinoma is contemplated, three-dimensional conformal techniques and a minimum total dose of 45 Gy are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-142
Number of pages7
JournalStrahlentherapie und Onkologie
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Esophagus
  • Neoplasm recurrence, local
  • Radiotherapy
  • Squamous cell carcinoma


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