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We aimed to clarify the correlation between clinic-pathological characteristics and the distribution of recurrence probability during follow-up of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) patients with complete resection analysis by hazard function, and to try to provide evidence-based data for optimal timing for adjuvant therapy.A single-institution, retrospective study was conducted on 553 Chinese patients with OSCC who underwent R0 resection between January 2005 and October 2007. Survival curves were generated using the Kaplan–Meier method, and hazard function was used to analyse the annual recurrence hazard.The median recurrence-free survival time of these patients was 3.4 years. In univariate analysis, the favourable prognostic factors were gender, smoking status, a tumour length of ≤4.0 cm, tumour invasion thickness, normal level of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) antigen, pathological T category and pathological N category. In multivariate analysis, pathological T category and pathological N category were independent prognostic factors. Overall, the recurrence hazard curve for the entire cohort showed that the first major recurrence surge began to increase from the first year at 22.97% and peaked at 1.3 years at 27.4% during follow-up. The second recurrence surge peaked during the seventh year at 13.0%. A lower recurrence risk was observed in patients with the following clinic-pathological characteristics: gender, smoking status and N0.We identify the presence of two peaks for recurrence risk in Chinese patients with resectable OSCC, which might contribute to choosing the optimal timing for adjuvant therapy after an operation to decrease or delay the recurrence hazard for patients with resectable OSCC.