Background: Several studies have reported the efficacy of resection for recurrent lesions. However, they involved a limited number of subjects. This study aimed to identify a subset of patients who benefit from surgical resection of recurrent lesions after curative esophagectomy for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Methods: Clinicopathological features of 186 patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma who underwent surgical treatment for postoperative recurrent lesions at 37 accredited institutions of the Japanese Esophageal Society were evaluated. Results: The most common recurrence site was the lymph node (106 cases; 58.6%), followed by the lung (40 cases; 22.1%). Univariate analyses revealed that pN 0–1 at esophagectomy (P = 0.0348), recurrence-free interval of ≥ 550 days (P = 0.0306), R0 resection (P < 0.0001), and absence of severe complications after resection for recurrent lesions (Clavien–Dindo grade < IIIa) (P = 0.0472) were associated with better overall survival after surgical resection. According to multivariate analyses, pN 0–1 (P = 0.0146), lung metastasis (P = 0.0274), recurrence-free interval after curative esophagectomy of ≥ 550 days (P = 0.0266), R0 resection (P = 0.0009), and absence of severe complications after resection for recurrent lesions (Clavien–Dindo grade < IIIa) (P = 0.0420) were independent predictive factors for better overall survival. Conclusions: Surgical resection of recurrent esophageal squamous cell carcinoma lesions is a useful option, especially for cases involving lower pN stage, lung metastasis, long recurrence-free intervals after esophagectomy, and technically resectable lesions. Surgical risks should be minimized as much as possible.
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