Patterns of Care and Treatment Outcomes of Elderly Patients with Stage I Esophageal Cancer: Analysis of the National Cancer Data Base

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This study analyzes practice patterns, treatment-related mortality, survival, and predictors thereof in elderly patients with early-stage esophageal cancer (EC).


The National Cancer Data Base was queried for cT1-2 N0 EC in patients 80 years of age and older. Patients were divided into four treatment groups: observation (Obs), chemoradiotherapy (CRT), local excision (LE), and esophagectomy (Eso). Patient, tumor, and treatment parameters were extracted and compared. Analyses were performed on overall survival (OS) and postoperative 30- and 90-day mortality.


A total of 923 patients from 2004 to 2012 were analyzed. Of these, 43% underwent clinical Obs, 22% underwent CRT, 25% underwent LE, and 10% underwent Eso. Patients undergoing Obs were older, had more comorbidities, were treated at nonacademic centers, and lived 25 miles or less from the facility. Patients receiving an operation (Eso or LE) were more often younger, male, white, and in the top income quartile. The postoperative 30-day mortality rates in the LE and Eso groups were 1.3% and 9.6%, respectively (p < 0.001) and increased to 2.6% and 20.2% at 90 days, respectively (p < 0.001). The 5-year OS rate was 7% for Obs, 20% for CRT, 33% for LE, and 45% for Eso (p < 0.001). Multivariate analyses showed improved OS with any local definitive therapy: CRT (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.42, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.34–0.52, p < 0.001), LE (HR = 0.3, 95% CI: 0.24–0.38, p < 0.001), and Eso (HR = 0.32, 95% CI: 0.23–0.44, p < 0.001).


There are noteworthy demographic, socioeconomic, and regional disparities influencing management of elderly patients with stage I EC. Despite high rates of Obs, careful consideration of all local therapy options is warranted, given the improved outcomes with treatment.

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