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.

Esophageal carcinoma, High dose rate brachytherapy, Palliation, Radiotherapy,
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