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Recurrence pattern of squamous cell carcinoma in the midthoracic esophagus: implications for the clinical target volume design of postoperative radiotherapy

Authors Wang X, Luo Y, Li M, Yan H, Sun M, Fan T

Received 3 July 2016

Accepted for publication 29 August 2016

Published 3 October 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 6021—6027

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OTT.S116348

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Manfred Beleut

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Samir Farghaly


Xiaoli Wang,1,2,* Yijun Luo,1,2,* Minghuan Li,2 Hongjiang Yan,2 Mingping Sun,2 Tingyong Fan2

1School of Medicine and Life Sciences, Jinan University-Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences, Jinan, Shandong, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Radiation Oncology, Shandong Cancer Hospital and Institute, Jinan, Shandong, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work


Background: Postoperative radiotherapy has shown positive efficacy in lowering the recurrence rate and improving the survival rate for patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). However, controversies still exist about the postoperative prophylactic radiation target volume. This study was designed to analyze the patterns of recurrence and to provide a reference for determination of the postoperative radiotherapy target volume for patients with midthoracic ESCC.
Patients and methods: A total of 338 patients with recurrent or metastatic midthoracic ESCC after radical surgery were retrospectively examined. The patterns of recurrence including locoregional and distant metastasis were analyzed for these patients.
Results: The rates of lymph node (LN) metastasis were 28.4% supraclavicular, 77.2% upper mediastinal, 32.0% middle mediastinal, 50.0% lower mediastinal, and 19.5% abdominal LNs. In subgroup analyses, the rate of abdominal LN metastasis was significantly higher in patients with histological node-positive than that in patients with histological node-negative (P=0.033). Further analysis in patients with histological node-positive demonstrated that patients with three or more positive nodes are more prone to abdominal LN metastasis, compared with patients with one or two positive nodes (χ2=4.367, P=0.037). The length of tumor and histological differentiation were also the high-risk factors for abdominal LN metastasis.
Conclusion: For midthoracic ESCC with histological node-negative, or one or two positive nodes, the supraclavicular and stations 2, 4, 5, and 7 LNs should be delineated as clinical target volume of postoperative prophylactic irradiation, and upper abdominal LNs should be excluded. While for midthoracic ESCC with three or more positive nodes, upper abdominal LNs should also be included. The length of tumor and histological differentiation should be considered comprehensively to design the clinical target volume for radiotherapy.

Keywords: esophagus cancer, radiotherapy, recurrence and metastasis, clinical target volume

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