Background: There is no general agreement on the effect of neoadjuvant treatment for esophageal cancer on patient survival. Methods: A meta-analysis was performed to determine the effect of preoperative treatment on survival of patients with resectable esophageal cancer and the effect of preoperative treatment on patient mortality. A standard variance-based method was used to derive summary estimates of the absolute difference in both 2-year survival and treatment-related mortality. Results: Eleven randomized trials involving 2311 patients were analyzed. Preoperative chemotherapy improved 2-year survival compared with surgery alone: the absolute difference was 4.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], .3%-8.5%). Marginal evidence of heterogeneity was eliminated by restricting attention to the four most recent studies, which increased the estimate to 6.3% (95% CI, 1.8%-10.7%). For combined chemoradiotherapy, the increase was 6.4% (nonsignificant; 95% CI, -1.2%-14.0%). Treatment-related mortality increased by 1.7% with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (95% CI, -.9%-4.3%) and by 3.4% with chemoradiotherapy (95% CI, -.1%-7.3%), compared with surgery alone. Conclusions: There seems to be a modest survival advantage for patients who receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery, as compared with surgery alone. There is an apparent increase in treatment-related mortality, mainly for patients who receive neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy.
- Esophageal cancer
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