Purpose The results and outcomes of surgical resection for esophageal carcinoma have improved remarkably in recent years; however, recurrence still frequently develops, even after complete resection. The purpose of this study is to clarify the characteristics of recurrence in this patient population. Methods Among 208 patients, who underwent R0 resection for esophageal carcinoma, recurrence developed in 61. Clinical data were available for 56 of these patients, who were the subjects of this study. We evaluated the time, patterns, and treatment of recurrence in these patients. Results Recurrence developed within 1 and 2 years after esophagectomy in 71 and 84% of the patients, respectively, and was classified as loco-regional (54%), hematogenous (36%), or mixed type (10%). The prognosis of patients with loco-regional recurrence tended to be better than that of those with distant metastasis, although the difference was not significant (P = 0.088). Patients with recurrence treated by chemotherapy alone or multimodal therapy, such as radiation or surgery combined with systemic chemotherapy, survived significantly longer than those with untreatable recurrence (P = 0.016). Conclusion These findings reinforce the importance of careful follow-up for both loco-regional and hematogenous recurrence after esophagectomy, particularly during the first 2 years.
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