Purpose. Our goal was to create a multimodal treatment strategy for patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer (EC). Methods. A retrospective review identified a total of 193 patients with clinical T3 thoracic EC were categorized into 3 groups: 81 who had surgery only (group I); 102 who had planned neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (NACRT; group II); and 10 who had salvage esophagectomy after definitive chemoradiotherapy (dCRT; group III). Results. Postoperative complications developed in 27, 45, and 80 % of patients in group I, group II, and group III, respectively. NACRT and dCRT were independent risk factors associated with postoperative complications; the odds ratios for group II and group III, compared with group I, were 2.1 and 8.8, respectively. The respective mortality rates were 4, 2, and 20 % (group I vs. group III, p\0.05; group II vs. group III, p\0.01). The 5-year survival rate was 25.2 % in group I and 41.6 % in group II. The 5-year survival rate in group II patients with markedly effective NACRT (89.2 %) was significantly better than in patients with ineffective/slightly effective (11.8 %; p\0.0001) and moderately effective treatment (51 %; p\0.05). Four patients who had noncurative surgery died within 4 months after salvage esophagectomy, whereas four of six patients were still alive after curative surgery. Conclusions. A pathological complete response to NACRT is critical for improving survival in patients with clinical T3 thoracic EC. Salvage surgery should be considered only in carefully selected patients with locally advanced EC.
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