Article Abstract

Salvage lymphadenectomy for isolated cervical lymph node recurrence after curative resection of thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Authors: Zhen Wang, Shaofeng Lin, Feng Wang, Shuoyan Liu


Background: Patients with thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) often display recurrence in the cervical lymph nodes after surgery. The optimal treatment strategy for these patients has not been established. We retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent salvage lymphadenectomy plus adjuvant radiotherapy/chemotherapy for recurrence limited to the cervical lymph nodes to explore whether salvage treatment could provide an opportunity for curing these patients and to observe the prognostic factors for the patients after salvage treatment.
Methods: All patients with ESCC who underwent esophagectomy with lymphadenectomy and who were diagnosed with a relapse in the cervical nodes between 2007 to 2014. All cases received salvage lymphadenectomy plus adjuvant radiotherapy/chemotherapy. Their clinical characteristics and outcomes were analysed.
Results: A total of 66 patients were diagnosed with recurrence in the cervical nodes after esophagectomy. Among these patients, 21 (31.8%) relapsed 6 months after esophagectomy and 45 (68.2%) recurrences were found 6 months later. Solitary cervical node recurrence was found in 31 (47.0%) patients while 35 (53.0%) cases showed multiple node relapse. Fifty-four (81.8%) patients underwent radical resection while 12 (18.2%) received reduction surgery. The univariate survival analysis showed that patients with solitary cervical node relapse had a better prognosis than patients with multiple node relapse (P=0.001). Patients who were diagnosed with a recurrence in 6 months after esophagectomy had worse outcomes than patients who relapsed 6 months later (P=0.007). Patients who underwent radical salvage lymphadenectomy had better survival than patients who underwent reduction dissection (P=0.004). The number of positive nodes at esophagectomy (3 or more/2 or less) and surgical treatment for recurrence (reduction/radical surgery) were found to have independent prognostic values by multivariate analysis, whereas the other two factors were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Salvage cervical lymphadenectomy plus adjuvant radiotherapy/chemotherapy is an effective and safe treatment for ESCC patients who develop cervical lymph node recurrence after curative esophagectomy. A lower primary N stage and radical resection of recurrent nodes were found to have independent prognostic values for these patients.