Chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy are common neoadjuvant treatments for resectable T3 N0–1 M0 oesophageal carcinoma. The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes of these therapies in consecutive cohorts of patients.


Between January 1998 and December 2001, 88 patients received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (two cycles of cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), prior to 45 Gy in 25 F concurrent radiotherapy with cisplatin and 5-FU). From 2002, 117 patients received neoadjuvant chemotherapy (76 patients had two cycles of cisplatin and 41 had four cycles of epirubicin, cisplatin and 5-FU). The primary outcome measure was survival, and analysis was by intention to treat.


Postoperative morbidity and mortality rates were 56 per cent (40 patients) and 10 per cent (seven patients) respectively in the chemoradiotherapy group, compared with 47 per cent (46 patients) and 1 per cent (one patient) in the chemotherapy group (P = 0·008). The cumulative 5-year survival rate by intention to treat was 35 per cent after chemoradiotherapy versus 21 per cent after chemotherapy (P = 0·188). The cumulative corrected 5-year survival rate after completed treatment was 44 per cent for chemoradiotherapy compared with 25 per cent for chemotherapy (P = 0·032).


Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy should remain an option for patients with satisfactory performance status. Copyright © 2007 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.