N1 esophageal carcinoma: The importance of staging and downstaging

Thomas W. Rice*, Eugene H. Blackstone, David J. Adelstein, Gregory Zuccaro, John J. Vargo, John R. Goldblum, Lisa A. Rybicki, Sudish C. Murthy, Malcolm M. DeCamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the effects of clinical staging and downstaging by induction chemoradiation therapy in patients with N1 esophageal carcinoma. Methods: Sixty-nine consecutive patients with regional lymph node metastases (cN1) according to clinical staging received induction therapy before surgery. These were compared to 75 patients both clinically and pathologically N1 (cN1/pN1) who underwent surgery without induction therapy and 79 patients clinically and pathologically not N1 (cN0/pN0) who underwent surgery without induction therapy. Analyses focused on survival and the cost and benefit of therapy. Results: For comparison, the extremes of 5-year survival were 69% for cN0/pN0 patients who underwent surgery alone and 12% for cN1/pN1 patients who underwent surgery alone. Of 69 patients who received induction therapy, 37 were pN0 at resection (downstaged); they had an intermediate survival of 37% at 5 years. Those patients not downstaged with induction therapy had a 12% 5-year survival, similar to patients with cN1/pN1 who underwent surgery alone. After adjusting for the strongest predictors of poor outcome, pN1, and increasing N1 burden, a modest increased risk of death after induction therapy was identified. However, this cost of induction therapy was more than counterbalanced by the benefit of improved survival of downstaging to pN0. Conclusions: (1) pN1 is the strongest determinant of poor outcome. (2) cN1 patients who are downstaged by induction chemoradiation therapy to pN0 have an intermediate outcome. (3) cN1 patients who are not downstaged by induction therapy have a poor outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-464
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


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