Patterns of care for relapsed oesophageal cancer after initial curative trimodality therapy: Long-term follow-up of the SAKK 75/08 trial

Published:November 08, 2022DOI:


      • Tumour recurrence is common after trimodality therapy for oesophageal cancer.
      • The most common pattern is distant recurrence with or without local recurrence.
      • In 58% of patients, various systemic therapies were initiated depending on histology.
      • Time to recurrence, recurrence sites and systemic therapy correlated with survival.



      Recurrent oesophageal cancer after the initial curative multimodality treatment is a disease condition with a poor prognosis. There is limited evidence on recurrence patterns and on the optimal therapeutic approach.


      We analysed the pattern of disease recurrence and subsequent therapies in patients with recurrent oesophageal cancer based on prospectively collected data within a predefined subproject of the randomised phase 3 trial Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK) 75/08.


      Among 300 patients included in the SAKK 75/08 trial, tumour recurrence was observed in 103 patients with a median follow-up of 5.8 years. Locoregional recurrence only was found in 26.2% of the patients, 21.4% of patients had both distant and locoregional recurrence and 52.4% of patients had distant recurrence only. Fifty-nine patients (58%) received at least one line of systemic therapy at recurrence, most commonly oxaliplatin-based combination therapies for adenocarcinoma and single-agent chemotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma. Local therapies, most commonly palliative radiotherapy, were used in 49 patients (48%). Six patients underwent a second curative resection or radiochemotherapy. We found no significant overall survival difference for isolated locoregional recurrence versus distant recurrence (15.1 versus 8.7 months, p = 0.167). In a multivariable Cox regression model, time from oesophagectomy to recurrence and the number of recurrence sites as well as the use of systemic therapy or a second curative local therapy significantly correlated with overall survival.


      Recurrent oesophageal cancer remains a disease with a poor prognosis and requires multidisciplinary management. A second curative approach for localised disease recurrence may be an option for highly selected patients.


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