Management and outcomes of localized esophageal and gastroesophageal junction cancer in older patients

X. Qu, J. Biagi, A. Banashkevich, C.D. Mercer, L. Tremblay, A. Mahmud



Older patients are commonly excluded from clinical trials in esophageal and gastroesophageal junction (gej) cancer. High-level evidence to guide management in this group is lacking. In the present study, we compared outcomes and described tolerance for curative- and noncurative-intent treatments among patients 70 years of age and older.


We retrospectively reviewed all patients 70 years of age and older diagnosed with localized esophageal and gej cancer at our centre between 2005 and 2012.


The 74 patients identified had a median age of 77 years. Of those patients, 62% received curative-intent treatment, consisting mostly of concomitant chemoradiation therapy (n = 43, 93%). Median overall survival for patients receiving curative-intent treatment was 18.6 months [95% confidence interval (ci): 13.0 to 28.0 months], with 23% being long-term survivors (95% ci: 11.3% to 36.7%). In contrast, patients receiving noncurative-intent treatment had a median overall survival of 8.8 months (95% ci: 6.7 to 11.9 months), with none being long-term survivors (p < 0.0001). Improvement of dysphagia was seen after curative (81%) or palliative radiotherapy (78%) in symptomatic patients, and toxicities were manageable. The odds of not receiving curative treatment was higher by a factor of 8.5 among patients 80 years of age or older compared with those 70–79 years of age (95% ci: 2.5 to 28.7).


In managing older patients with esophageal and gej cancer, curative-intent treatment (compared with noncurative-intent treatment) leads to a significant survival benefit with a reasonable toxicity profile. Informed counselling of patients and their families about a curative treatment approach and efforts to increase awareness among oncology care providers are suggested.


Older patients; esophageal cancer; chemoradiation therapy

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)