Author(s): Minsky BD, Pajak TF, Ginsberg RJ, Pisansky TM
PURPOSE: To compare the local/regional control, survival, and toxicity of combined-modality therapy using high-dose (64.8 Gy) versus standard-dose (50.4 Gy) radiation therapy for the treatment of patients with esophageal cancer. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 236 patients with clinical stage T1 to T4, N0/1, M0 squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma selected for a nonsurgical approach, after stratification by weight loss, primary tumor size, and histology, were randomized to receive combined-modality therapy consisting of four monthly cycles of fluorouracil (5-FU) (1,000 mg/m(2)/24 hours for 4 days) and cisplatin (75 mg/m(2) bolus day 1) with concurrent 64.8 Gy versus the same chemotherapy schedule but with concurrent 50.4 Gy. The trial was stopped after an interim analysis. The median follow-up was 16.4 months for all patients and 29.5 months for patients still alive. RESULTS: For the 218 eligible patients, there was no significant difference in median survival (13.0 v 18.1 months), 2-year survival (31% v 40%), or local/regional failure and local/regional persistence of disease (56% v 52%) between the high-dose and standard-dose arms. Although 11 treatment-related deaths occurred in the high-dose arm compared with two in the standard-dose arm, seven of the 11 deaths occurred in patients who had received 50.4 Gy or less. CONCLUSION: The higher radiation dose did not increase survival or local/regional control. Although there was a higher treatment-related mortality rate in the patients assigned to the high-dose radiation arm, it did not seem to be related to the higher radiation dose. The standard radiation dose for patients treated with concurrent 5-FU and cisplatin chemotherapy is 50.4 Gy.