Unresectable nonmetastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus managed by sequential chemotherapy (cisplatin and bleomycin) and radiation therapy

Miguel A. Izquierdo, Eugenio Marcuello, Gerardo Gomez De Segura, Remedios Blanco, Eugenio Canals, Antonio Gomez, Federico Sampedro

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Background. For patients with unresectable non‐metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus (SCCE), the conventional treatment has been radiation therapy (RT). Because RT alone is unsatisfactory, there has been increasing interest in including chemotherapy (CT) in the management of these patients. Methods. Twenty‐five previously untreated patients with unresectable nonmetastatic SCCE were treated with sequential CT and RT. CT consisted of cisplatin 35 mg/m2/day for 3 days plus bleomycin 15 mg/ day for 3 days as an 18–hour infusion every 3 weeks. After three courses of CT, RT was administered (dose, 200 rads/day with a planned total dose of 50–60 Gy). Results. Nineteen tumors were T3; six were T2 and larger than 7 cm. Fifteen patients (60%) had severe dysphagia that required placement of nasogastric tubes in 14 and gastrostomy in 1. All patients were evaluable for respons. Thirteen patients (52%) had a partial response to CT. After combined treatment, four patients had complete responses (16%), and nine had partial responses (36%; overall response rate, 52%). The median survival was 8 months; 20% were alive at 1 year, and 8% lived more than 4 years. The median survival for responders to CT was 8 months compared with 5 months for nonresponders (P = 0.005). Combined treatment improved dysphagia in 16 patients (64%) with complete resolution in 13. Toxicity was mild. Conclusions. The use of sequential CT (cisplatin and bleomycin) and RT in this group of patients is feasible; there is little additional toxicity, and good palliative effects can be achieved. The patient's response to CT is a good prognostic factor. The development of more effective combinations that induce more durable responses and higher rates of complete response are required. Copyright © 1993 American Cancer Society
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-292
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993


  • bleomycin
  • carcinoma
  • chemotherapy
  • cisplatin
  • combined therapy
  • esophageal neoplasms
  • radiation therapy
  • squamous cell


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