Background and Objectives: Although locoregional failure frequently occurs after definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT), the role of salvage esophagectomy has not been fully evaluated. The aim of this study was to compare the outcome of salvage esophagectomy after high-dose definitive CRT with neoadjuvant CRT. Methods: From 1994 to 2007, 33 patients with thoracic esophageal cancer underwent salvage esophagectomy after definitive CRT, and 115 patients underwent neoadjuvant CRT followed by surgery. Results: The postoperative mortality rate in the salvage group (12%) was higher than in the neoadjuvant group (3.6%, P = 0.059). The rates of postoperative complications were significantly higher in the salvage group than in neoadjuvant group: Anastomotic leakage (39% vs. 22%, respectively, P = 0.049), bleeding (15% vs. 1.7%, respectively, P = 0.002), cardiovascular complications (24% vs. 5.4%, respectively, P = 0.001). Univariate analysis showed that pretherapy T stage, pretherapy lymph node status, pathological T stage, and operative curability were significant prognostic factors affecting survival of patients who underwent salvage esophagectomy. In particular, patients with cT3-T4 tumors or cN1 tumors before definitive CRT showed worse prognosis after salvage esophagectomy. Conclusions: Salvage esophagectomy after high-dose definitive CRT was associated with higher postoperative mortality and morbidity rates compared with neoadjuvant CRT. Only selected patients can be rescued by salvage esophagectomy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes