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Published online: 2024-06-03

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Definitive chemo-radiotherapy in cervical oesophageal cancer: a comprehensive review of literature

Ankita Mehta1, Rohit Vadgaonkar2, Shirley Lewis1, Umesh Mahantshetty2, JP Agarwal3


Background and objectives: Despite decades of experience with definitive chemo-radiotherapy (CRT) in cervical oesophageal cancer (CEC), the loco-regional control and survival outcomes are dismal. This review evaluated the outcomes of various treatment strategies being commonly utilized.

Materials and methods: A literature review was conducted to identify relevant articles on CEC published from years 2000–2023 addressing the predefined key questions. These questions focussed on the comparative outcomes of various primary treatment approaches (surgery, CRT, or trimodality treatment) and the radiation dose schedules, volumes, and techniques.

Results: CRT is the standard approach for treatment for CEC so far. The potential role of surgery and trimodality approach in settings of evolving surgical approaches needs to be validated. The high dose schedules that are preferentially practiced in CEC have not shown any benefit in improving the disease outcomes over the standard dose schedule of 50.4 Gy. The target volume delineation practice of elective nodal irradiation (ENI) does not have a proven benefit over the involved field irradiation (IFU). The limited evidence on radiation techniques suggests that intensity-modulated radiotherapy/volumetric arc therapy (IMRT/VMAT) techniques can improve toxicity profile over three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT, but no advantage proven in disease outcomes so far.

Conclusion: This review will guide clinicians in decision-making for the management of this relatively rare entity and the directions for future research in these areas. Future large-scale multicentre prospective studies are needed for validating and standardizing our current practices and exploring potential options to improve the outcomes. 

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