eISSN: 2081-2841
ISSN: 1689-832X
Journal of Contemporary Brachytherapy
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vol. 11
Original paper

Reducing dysphagia with palliative 2D high-dose-rate brachytherapy improves survival in esophageal cancer

Wojciech Burchardt
Artur Chyrek
Ewa Burchardt
Grzegorz Bielęda
Maciej Trojanowski
Adam Chicheł

J Contemp Brachytherapy 2019; 11, 6: 534–540
Online publish date: 2019/12/25
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The goal of this study was to assess the effectiveness of dysphagia relief and overall survival in patients with advanced esophageal cancer treated with palliative high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy (BT) without computed tomography-based planning.

Material and methods
Palliative 2D HDR-BT was used to treat 93 patients with advanced or incurable esophageal cancer in a regional cancer center from October 2010 to December 2016. Before the treatment patients presented the following grades of dysphagia: 0 – 0%, I – 57%, II – 33.3%, III – 6.5%, IV – 3.2%. The planned dose was 22.5 Gy in 3 fractions. The median age of patients was 65 years (45-88). Squamous cell carcinoma was diagnosed in 59.4%, adenocarcinoma in 22.6%, and other histological types of tumors in 6.7% of cases. The histopathological report was unknown in 11.3% of patients.

The mean follow-up was 5.0 months (range 1-43). The median tumor length was 72.5 mm. Due to BT dysphagia was significantly decreased: grade 0 – 38.7%, I – 31.2%, II – 20.4%, IV – 1.1% (p < 0.001). Dysphagia relief was achieved in 55% of patients and lasted for a mean time of 4.6 months; stabilization occurred in 31% and deterioration in 14%. The patients with partial or complete dysphagia relief lived longer (5.8 vs. 4.1 months, p = 0.02). The patients with a length of the tumor less than 72.5 mm, histopathologically confirmed adenocarcinoma or after dilatation with a metal stent subsequently to BT had improved overall survival as well (7.1 vs. 3.6; 8.0 vs. 4.1; 6.5 vs. 4.0 months, respectively; p < 0.05). The primary localization and primary grade of dysphagia were not factors that influenced the survival of patients. The logistic regression model did not reveal any predictors for treatment response.

2D HDR-BT reduces dysphagia and prolongs survival in patients who respond to the treatment. It meets the assumption of palliative treatment for advanced esophageal cancer because of its simplicity and effectiveness.


palliation, HDR brachytherapy, dysphagia, esophageal cancer

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