BACKGROUND: Few large, prospective, randomized studies have investigated the value and optimal application of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy followed by surgery (trimodality therapy) or definitive concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) for patients with thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (TESCC). METHODS: The authors analyzed data from patients with TESCC in the Taiwan Cancer Registry database. To compare their outcomes, patients with TESCC were enrolled and categorized into the following groups according to treatment modality: group 1, those who underwent surgery alone; group 2, those who received trimodality therapy; and group 3, those who received definitive CCRT. Group 1 was used as the control arm for investigating the risk of mortality after treatment. RESULTS: In total, 3522 patients who had TESCC without distant metastasis were enrolled. Multivariate Cox regression analysis indicated that a Charlson comorbidity index score ≥3, American Joint Committee on Cancer stage ≥IIA, earlier year of diagnosis, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and definitive CCRT were significant, independent predictors of a poor prognosis. After adjustment for confounders, adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for overall mortality in patients with clinical stage I, IIA, IIB, IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC TESCC were 2.01 (95% CI, 0.44-6.18), 1.65 (95% CI, 0.99-2.70), 1.48 (95% CI, 0.91-2.42), 0.66 (95% CI, 1.08-1.14), 0.39 (95% CI, 0.26-0.57), and 0.44 (95% CI, 0.24-0.83), respectively, in group 2; and 2.06 (95% CI, 1.18-3.59), 2.65 (95% CI, 1.76-4.00), 2.25 (95% CI, 1.49-3.39), 1.34 (95% CI, 0.79-2.28), 0.82 (95% CI, 0.57-1.17), and 0.93 (95% CI, 0.51-1.71), respectively, in group 3. CONCLUSIONS: Trimodality therapy may be beneficial for the survival of patients with advanced-stage (IIIA-IIIC) TESCC, and CCRT might be an alternative to surgery alone in these patients.
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