Background: The aim of our study was to describe treatment patterns and the impact on overall survival among elderly patients (75 years and older) with potentially curable esophageal cancer.
Material and methods: Between 2003 and 2013, 13,244 patients from the nationwide population-based Netherlands Cancer Registry (NCR) were diagnosed with potentially curable esophageal cancer (cT2–3, X, any cN, cM0, X) of which 34% were elderly patients (n = 4501).
Results: Surgical treatment with or without neoadjuvant treatment remained stable among elderly patients (around the 16% between 2003 and 2013). However, among younger patients, surgical treatment increased from 60.2 to 67.0%. The use of definitive chemoradiation (dCRT) increased in elderly patients from 1.9 to 19.5% and in younger patients from 5.2 to 17.2%. Due to the increase in dCRT, treatment with curative intent doubled in the elderly from 17 to 37.1%. Multivariable Cox regression revealed that elderly patients with an adenocarcinoma receiving surgery alone or dCRT had a significantly worse overall survival compared to those receiving surgery with neoadjuvant chemo (radio) therapy (nCRT/CT) (HR: 1.7 95% CI 1.4–2.0 and HR: 1.9 95% CI 1.5–2.3). However, among elderly with squamous cell carcinoma overall survival was comparable between dCRT, surgery alone and surgery with nCRT/CT.
Conclusions: Survival was comparable among elderly patients with squamous cell carcinoma who underwent surgery with nCRT/CT, surgery alone or received dCRT, while elderly patients with an adenocarcinoma who underwent surgery with nCRT/CT had a better overall survival when compared with surgery alone or dCRT. Therefore, dCRT can be considered as a reasonable alternative for surgery among potentially curable elderly patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. However, in elderly patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma surgery with nCRT/CT is still preferable regarding overall survival.

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Journal Acta Oncologica
Koëter, M, van Putten, M, Verhoeven, R.H.A, Lemmens, V.E.P.P, & Nieuwenhuijzen, G.A.P. (2018). Definitive chemoradiation or surgery in elderly patients with potentially curable esophageal cancer in the Netherlands. Acta Oncologica, 1–9. doi:10.1080/0284186X.2018.1450521