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Saturday, July 7, 2012
Patients with esophageal cancer who received chemotherapy and radiation before surgery survived, on average, nearly twice as long as patients treated with surgery alone. The findings, from a large randomized trial of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for the disease, were published May 31 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Pieter van Hagen of Erasmus University Medical Center in Holland and his colleagues enrolled 368 patients who had cancer of the esophagus or of the junction between the stomach and the esophagus that had not spread to other organs. Patients randomly assigned to the chemoradiotherapy arm of the study received five courses of chemotherapy with carboplatin and paclitaxel plus concurrent external-beam radiation therapy, followed by surgery, usually within 4 to 6 weeks of completing preoperative treatment. Patients treated with carboplatin and paclitaxel chemotherapy plus radiation prior to surgery had a median overall survival of nearly 50 months, compared with 24 months for patients treated with surgery alone. Patients benefited from preoperative therapy regardless of whether they had adenocarcinoma, the most prevalent form of esophageal cancer in the US, or squamous cell carcinoma, the most prevalent form of the disease worldwide.