Background and purpose: High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a commonly used palliative treatment for esophageal carcinoma. We evaluated the outcome of HDR brachytherapy in patients with malignant dysphagia. Material and methods: A retrospective analysis over a 10-year period was performed of 149 patients treated with HDR brachytherapy, administered in one or two sessions, at a median dose of 15Gy. Patients were evaluated for functional outcome, complications, recurrent dysphagia, and survival. Results: At 6 weeks after HDR brachytherapy, dysphagia scores had improved from a median of 3 to 2 (n=104; P<0.001), however, dysphagia had not improved in 51 (49%) patients. Procedure-related complications occurred in seven (5%) patients. Late complications, including fistula formation or bleeding, occurred in 11 (7%) patients. Twelve (8%) patients experienced minor retrosternal pain. Median survival of the patients was 160 days with a 1-year survival rate of 15%. Procedure-related mortality was 2%. At follow-up, 55 (37%) patients experienced recurrent dysphagia. In 34 (23%) patients a metal stent was placed to relieve persistent or recurrent dysphagia. Conclusion: HDR brachytherapy is a moderately effective treatment for the palliation of malignant dysphagia. The incidence of early major complications is low, however, persistent and recurrent dysphagia occur frequently, and require often additional treatment.

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Radiotherapy & Oncology
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Homs, M.Y.V, Eijkenboom, W.M.H, Coen, V.L.M.A, Haringsma, J, van Blankenstein, M, Kuipers, E.J, & Siersema, P.D. (2003). High dose rate brachytherapy for the palliation of malignant dysphagia. Radiotherapy & Oncology, 66(3), 327–332. doi:10.1016/S0167-8140(02)00410-3