The evaluation and treatment of patients receiving radiation therapy for carcinoma of the esophagus: results of the 1992-1994 Patterns of Care Study.
BACKGROUND: For the first time, a Patterns of Care Study (PCS) was conducted in 1992-1994 to determine the national practice standards in evaluating and treating patients with esophageal carcinoma and to determine the degree to which clinical trials have been incorporated into national practice. METHODS: A national survey of 61 institutions using 2-stage cluster sampling was conducted, and specific information was collected on 400 patients with squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma of the thoracic esophagus who received radiation therapy (RT) as part of definitive or adjuvant management of their disease. Patients were staged according to a modified 1983 American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system. Chi-square tests for significant differences between academic and nonacademic institutions for a particular variable were performed. RESULTS: The median age of patients was 66.7 years (range, 26-89 years); 76.5% were male and 23.5% were female. Karnofsky performance status was > or = 80 for 88.3% of patients. Squamous cell carcinoma was diagnosed in 61.5% and adenocarcinoma in 36.8%. Fifteen percent were Clinical Stage (CS) I, 39.5% CS II, and 29.5% CS III. Evaluative procedures included endoscopy (>93%), computed tomography (CT) of the chest (86%), CT of the abdomen (75%), esophagography (68.5%), and endoscopic ultrasound (3.5%). Endoscopic ultrasound and CT of the chest were performed significantly more frequently at academic than nonacademic facilities (6.1% vs. 1.0% and 91.9% vs. 81.3%, respectively). Three-quarters of all patients received chemotherapy and RT and 62.5% received concurrent chemotherapy and RT as part of their treatment. Treatments included chemotherapy plus RT (54.0%), RT alone (20.3%), preoperative chemotherapy + RT (13.3%), postoperative chemotherapy + RT (7.7%), postoperative RT (3.5%), and preoperative RT (1.2%). The chemotherapeutic agents most frequently used were 5-fluorouracil (84%), cisplatin (64%), and mitomycin (9%); academic instututions used cisplatin significantly more often and mitomycin significantly less often than nonacademic institutions. Brachytherapy was used in 8.5% of cases. The median total dose of external beam radiation was 50.4 gray and the median dose per fraction was 1.8 gray. CONCLUSIONS: This study establishes the national benchmarks for the evaluation and treatment of patients with esophageal carcinoma at radiation facilities in the U.S. It also indicates that the majority of patients given RT as a component of treatment for esophageal carcinoma receive chemoradiation rather than RT alone, as supported by clinical trials. Although some differences in the evaluation of esophageal carcinoma were noted between academic and nonacademic facilities, there was no difference in the frequency of use of chemoradiation versus RT by facility type.
Coia, LR; Minsky, BD; John, MJ; Haller, DG; Landry, J; Pisansky, TM; Willett, CG; Hoffman, JP; Berkey, BA; Owen, JB; Hanks, GE
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