• body mass index;
  • esophageal cancer;
  • surgery

SUMMARY.  The aim of this study was to determine the role of body mass index (BMI) in a Western population on outcomes after esophagectomy for cancer. Two hundred and fifteen consecutive patients undergoing esophagectomy for esophageal cancer of any cell type were studied prospectively. Patients with BMIs > 25 kg/m were classified as overweight and compared with control patients with BMIs below these reference values. Ninety-seven patients (45%) had low or normal BMIs, 86 patients (40%) were overweight, and a further 32 (15%) were obese. High BMIs were associated with a higher incidence of adenocarcinoma versus squamous cell carcinoma (83%vs. 14%, P = 0.041). Operative morbidity and mortality were 53% and 3% in overweight patients compared with 49% (P = 0.489) and 8% (P = 0.123) in control patients. Cumulative survival at 5 years was 27% for overweight patients compared with 38% for control patients (P = 0.6896). In a multivariate analysis, age (hazard ratio [HR] 1.492, 95% CI 1.143–1.948, P = 0.003), T-stage (HR 1.459, 95% CI 1.028–2.071, P = 0.034), N-stage (HR 1.815, 95% CI 1.039–3.172, P = 0.036) and the number of lymph node metastases (HR 1.008, 95% CI 1.023–1.158, P = 0.008), were significantly and independently associated with durations of survival. High BMIs were not associated with increased operative risk, and long-term outcomes were similar after R0 esophagectomy.