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06-07-2017 | Esophageal cancer | Article

Primary radio(chemo)therapy for esophageal cancer in elderly patients: are efficiency and toxicity comparable with younger patients?

European Journal of Medical Research

Authors: Stefan Münch, Christine Heinrich, Daniel Habermehl, Markus Oechsner, Stephanie E. Combs, Marciana-Nona Duma

Publisher: BioMed Central



In elderly patients with esophageal cancer (EC), esophagectomy is associated with an increased mortality, and therefore these patients are often treated with definite (chemo)radiation. The purpose of this study was to assess the toxicity and efficiency of definite radio(chemo)therapy in patients >75 years compared with definite radio(chemo)therapy in patients <75 years.


32 patients >75 years were treated with definite radio(chemo)therapy for EC. We compared baseline parameters, efficiency and toxicity rates of these patients to 39 patients <75 years.


Patients <75 years were more likely to receive simultaneous chemotherapy, and had a lower age-adjusted Charlson comorbidity index (ACCI). 25% of elderly patients were treated in palliative intent. There was no significant difference in progression-free survival between patient groups. No significant differences were seen for overall survival (15.7 months vs. 19.9 months; p = 0.102) and progression-free survival (10.5 months vs. 9.2 months, p = 0.470) between older patients treated with curative intent and younger patients. In addition, there were no significant differences for dysphagia and hematological side effects between elderly patients and younger patients.


Definite (chemo)radiation is a feasible therapy for elderly patients. OS and PFS in elderly patients with a curative treatment approach are comparable to younger patients and it is not associated with higher toxicity rates.

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