Randomized prospective study comparing high-dose-rate intraluminal brachytherapy (HDRILBT) alone with HDRILBT and external beam radiotherapy in the palliation of advanced esophageal cancer
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PURPOSE: HDRILBT is one of the best methods of palliation for advanced esophageal cancer (AEC) by improving dysphagia-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS). This study examines if the addition of EBRT would further improve the outcome by improving DFS in AEC. METHODS AND MATERIALS: Patients with inoperable AEC were entered into a randomized prospective study. HDRILBT of 16 Gy/2 fractions/3 days was given initially to all patients. Following treatment, patients were randomized to receive no further treatment (Group A) or additional EBRT of 30 Gy/10 fractions/2 weeks (Group B) and were followed for 1 year. Statistical analysis of the data was done using the SAS statistical software package (SAS Institute, Cary, NC). Prognostic variables were analyzed using the chi(2) and log-rank tests and survival curves were drawn using the Kaplan-Meier method. Multivariate survival analysis was done using the Cox proportional hazards model. RESULTS: Sixty patients were entered into the study. Patient and tumor characteristics were comparable among the groups. Of 30 patients in Group B, 2 refused additional EBRT (no dysphagia). At 6 months, >50% had DFS in both groups and this was comparable. There was no difference statistically (p >0.05) in the DFS and OS between the two groups at the end of 12 months. Median survival for Group A was 7.23 months and 7.5 months for Group B. Additional EBRT did not improve DFS or OS. Eleven patients developed strictures related to radiotherapy and were dilated successfully (Group A, 7; Group B, 4; p >0.05). Four patients had progressive luminal disease which progressed to fistula (Group A, 3; Group B, 1; p >0.05). There was no effect of any patient or treatment parameter on DFS. Presenting weight and ECOG score had an impact on OS. CONCLUSIONS: From the preliminary analysis, additional EBRT to HDRILBT does not improve DFS or outcomes in inoperable AEC.