Introduction: Esophageal cancer is the seventh most frequent malignancy in Iranian men and the fourth most common cancer in Iranian women. It is also among the 10 most frequent cancers in the world. Definitive chemo-radiation using cisplatin with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is known as the standard of care among various chemotherapy regimens used with esophageal cancer patients who are not eligible for surgery. Cisplatin with paclitaxel and cisplatin with irinotecan also have been used often during the past five years. The aim of this research was to compare overall survival (OS) and hematological toxicity rates between these regimens.

Methods: This single-institutional study included 55 patients who were treated with definitive chemo-radiation in the radiation-oncology ward at Shohada-e-Tajrish Hospital in Tehran, Iran, between 2006 and 2013. They received one of four regimens, i.e., cisplatin, cisplatin with 5-FU (old chemotherapy regimens), cisplatin with paclitaxel, or cisplatin with irinotecan (new chemotherapy regimens) as part of their definitive chemo-radiation with curative intent. The Kaplan-Meier estimator was used to estimate the overall survival times, which were compared by using the Breslow test. 

Results: The follow-up period was between 26-109 months, with a median of 72 months. OS was not different between the old and new chemotherapy regimen groups (p = 0.18). Hematological toxicity (leucopenia) in the old chemotherapy regimen groups (10%) was significantly lower than in the new chemotherapy regimen groups (43%, p = 0.012). But OS in cisplatin or cisplatin with 5-FU scheme was statistically better than with the cisplatin with paclitaxel scheme (p = 0.026, p = 0.028, respectively).

Conclusion: This study showed that OS are similar in both the old and new chemotherapy treatment regimens in esophageal cancer patients who were treated with definitive chemo-radiation. The new chemotherapy treatment regimens should be used with caution as an alternative treatment of cisplatin with 5-FU for further evaluation.


Keywords: Esophageal cancer, Cisplatin, 5-FU, Paclitaxel, Irinotecan, Definitive chemoradiation
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