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Keywords:

  • dysphagia;
  • esophageal cancer;
  • neoadjuvant;
  • nutrition;
  • stent

SUMMARY

Patients with esophageal cancer may present with dysphagia and weight loss. Resectable lesions require consideration of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which improves survival but have side effects, which compound already poor intake. Prevention of malnutrition has historically required interventions such as surgical jejunostomy or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, which carry associated morbidity. With established roles in palliation, self-expanding removable metal stents (SERMS) may provide an alternative intervention in resectable disease. We sought to evaluate outcomes from our unit's introduction of SERMS in dysphagic patients prior to esophagectomy. All dysphagic patients presenting with esophageal cancer and considered for curative surgery between April 2006 and November 2008 were offered preoperative treatment of dysphagia with SERMS during neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Baseline and preoperative outcomes assessed included dysphagia score and nutritional markers. Sixteen patients underwent esophageal stenting during neoadjuvant therapy of whom 7/16 (44%) were female with mean age 63 (53–76). In 12/16 (75%), tumors were located in the lower one third of the esophagus. There was a significant fall in mean dysphagia score from 2.5 (range 1–4) to 1.1 (range 0–3) immediately preoperatively. There was no significant change in serum albumin, weight, or body mass index. Stent-related morbidity occurred in 4/16 (25%) patients and stomach migration occurred in 7/16 (43.8%). All were resolved endoscopically and there was no stent-related mortality. Of 10/16 (62.5%) patients ultimately progressing to esophagectomy, 30-day mortality was 6.3%. Anastomotic leak occurred in one patient (10%) and R1 resection rate was 20%. SERMS are a safe and effective intervention in dysphagic patients undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy for esophageal cancer. Complications are minor and readily treatable with endoscopy. Objective parameters suggest nutritional status is maintained and symptoms are improved. SERMS do not appear to compromise resection.