Despite increasingly radical surgery for esophageal carcinoma, a large number of patients still experience recurrent disease soon after operation. The current study was undertaken to evaluate the pattern of recurrence after curative esophagectomy for cancer of the thoracic esophagus and to identify factors predictive of recurrent disease.
A total of 439 consecutive patients discharged from the authors' institution following R0 resection between January 1982 and July 2002 were followed for evidence of recurrence over a mean interval of 37.3 (range, 1–207) months.
Overall 1-, 3- and 5-years survival rates were 91%, 54%, and 41%, respectively. Some 230 patients (52.4%) developed proven recurrence, of whom 24 were alive and 206 were dead at the time of writing. The median time to recurrence was 12.0 (range, 6–96) months, with a median survival thereafter of 7.0 (range, 0–83) months. The pattern of recurrence was local in 12.1%, regional in 20.5% (cervical 3.6%, mediastinal 14.8%, and abdominal 2.1%), and distant in 19.8%, respectively. The overall pattern of dissemination was significantly different according to the histologic subtype (P = 0.021). One hundred five (45.7%) of all recurrences occurred within 12 months of surgery, with local, regional, and distant recurrence occurring at a median of 14.0 (range, 6–77), 13.5 (range, 6–73), and 11.0 (range, 6–96) months, respectively; A factor predictive of recurrent disease was histologic tumor depth invasion (P = 0.001).
Depth of tumor invasion should be used to identify patients who will have recurrence within 12 months of operation, so that these patients may be either entered into trials of multimodality treatment or offered nonsurgical palliation. Cancer 2003;97:1616–23. © 2003 American Cancer Society.