Primary small cell carcinoma of the esophagus (PSCCE) is characterized by high malignancy, early metastasis, and poor prognosis. This retrospective study aimed to review the clinical characteristics of patients with limited-stage PSCCE and determine the relevant prognostic factors and optimal treatment strategies.Methods
We retrospectively evaluated 152 consecutive patients with limited-stage PSCCE between January 2007 and December 2015. Prognostic factors were analyzed using univariate analysis and a Cox regression model. Subgroup analysis was applied to evaluate the effect of treatment strategy on survival.Results
Univariate and multivariate analyses showed that treatment modality (p = 0.034) and N stage (p = 0.002) were independent prognostic factors. Patients with stage I or IIA PSCCE who underwent an operation alone exhibited better survival than those who did not undergo an operation (median survival time 29 versus 17.4 months [p = 0.031]), and postoperative adjuvant therapy did not increase overall survival or disease-free survival (p > 0.05). The overall survival rate of patients with stage III PSCCE who underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy (nCT) was significantly better than that of patients who underwent an operation alone or did not undergo an operation (p = 0.021 and p = 0.026, respectively); additionally, nCT could increase disease-free survival (p = 0.031).Conclusions
Treatment modalities and N stage are independent prognostic factors. Radical esophagectomy should be considered as the primary treatment for stage I or IIA PSCCE, and nCT followed by esophagectomy could be an effective treatment option for stage III PSCCE. Multicenter randomized studies are required to confirm the role of nCT in the management of limited-stage PSCCE.