Indications and outcome of salvage surgery for oesophageal cancer

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Some patients with localised oesophageal cancer are treated with definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT) rather than surgery. A subset of these patients experiences local failure, relapse or treatment-related complication without distant metastases, with no other curative treatment option but salvage oesophagectomy. The aim of this study was to assess the benefit/risk ratio of surgery in such context.


Review of a single institution experience with 24 patients: 18 men and 6 women, with a mean age of 59 years (±9). Histology was squamous cell carcinoma in 18 cases and adenocarcinoma in 6. Initial stages were cIIA (n = 5), cIIB (n = 1) and cIII (n = 18). CRT consisted of 2-6 sessions of the association 5-fluorouracil/cisplatin concomitantly with a 50-75 Gy radiation therapy. Salvage oesophagectomy was considered for the following reasons: relapse of the disease with conclusive (n = 11) or inconclusive biopsies (n = 7), intractable stenosis (n = 3), and perforation or severe oesophagitis (n = 3), at a mean delay of 74 days (14-240 days) following completion of CRT.


All patients underwent a transthoracic en-bloc oesophagectomy with 2-field lymphadenectomy. Thirty-day and 90-day mortality rates were 21% and 25%, respectively. Anastomotic leakage (p = 0.05), cardiac failure (p = 0.05), length of stay (p = 0.03) and the number of packed red blood cells (p = 0.02) were more frequent in patients who received more than 55 Gy, leading to a doubled in-hospital mortality when compared to that of patients having received lower doses. A R0 resection was achieved in 21 patients (87.5%). A complete pathological response (ypT0N0) was observed in 3 patients (12.5%). Overall and disease-free 5-year survival rates were 35% and 21%, respectively. There was no long-term survivor following R1-R2 resections. Functional results were good in more than 80% of the long-term survivors.


Salvage surgery is a highly invasive and morbid operation after a volume dose of radiation exceeding 55 Gy. The indication must be carefully considered, with care taken to avoid incomplete resections. Given that long-term survival with a fair quality of life can be achieved, such high-risk surgery should be considered in selected patients at an experienced centre.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles