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This study was performed to determine the feasibility and safety of salvage chemotherapy, using docetaxel and cisplatin in 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and cisplatin-pretreated esophageal cancer.Patients with metastatic or recurrent esophageal squamous cell carcinoma that had previously been treated with 5-FU and cisplatin chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy were eligible for this study. Docetaxel (70 mg/m2) and cisplatin (75 mg/m2) were given as a 1-hour intravenous infusion on day 1, and the treatment was repeated every 3 weeks.Thirty-eight male patients were enrolled, and 35 patients were available for evaluation. The median age was 64.5 years; Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status was 0/1/2 = 2/18/18. The median and total numbers of cycles delivered were 3.5 (range, 1–9 cycles) and 162, respectively. One patient (2.6%) achieved complete response, 12 (31.6%) achieved partial response, 12 (31.6%) had stable disease, and 10 (26.3%) had progressive disease. The overall response rate was 34.2% (95% confidence interval, 19.6–51.3). The median progression-free survival and overall survival times were 4.5 ± 1.3 months (95% CI, 4.1–4.9) and 7.4 ± 0.4 months (95% CI, 7.3–7.5), respectively. The main hematological toxicities greater than grade 3 were neutropenia and leucopenia in 20 (52.6%) and 18 patients (47.3%), respectively. Nonhematological toxicities greater than grade 3 included asthenia in 12 patients (31.6%), nausea in 7 patients (18.4%), and peripheral neuropathy in 6 patients (15.8%).Chemotherapy with docetaxel and cisplatin was an effective and feasible treatment following treatment with 5-FU and cisplatin, and would be considered as a salvage option for patients with refractory esophageal cancer.