Concurrent chemoradiotherapy is a standard treatment for local advanced esophageal cancer, but the outcomes are controversial. Our goals were to compare the therapeutic effects of concurrent chemoradiotherapy and radiotherapy alone in local advanced esophageal cancer using meta-analysis.
MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane library were searched for studies comparing chemoradiotherapy with radiotherapy alone for advanced esophageal cancer. Only randomized controlled trials were included, and extracted data were analyzed with Review Manager Version 5.2. The pooled relative risks (RR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for statistical analysis.
Nine studies were included. Of 1,135 cases, 612 received concurrent chemoradiotherapy and 523 were treated with radiotherapy alone. The overall response rate (complete remission and partial remission) was 93.4% for concurrent chemoradiotherapy and 83.7% for radiotherapy alone (P = 0.05). The RR values of 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year survival rates were 1.14 (95% CI: 1.04 - 1.24, P = 0.006), 1.66 (95% CI: 1.34 - 2.06, P < 0.001), and 2.43 (95% CI: 1.63 - 3.63, P < 0.001), respectively. The RR value of the merged occurrence rate of acute toxic effects was 2.34 (95% CI: 1.90 - 2.90, P <0.001). There was no difference in the incidence of late toxic effects, which had an RR value of 1.21 (95% CI: 0.96 - 1.54, P = 0.11). The RR level of persistence and recurrence was 0.71 (95% CI: 0.62 - 0.81, P <0.001), and for the distant metastasis rate, the RR value was 0.79 (95% CI: 0.61 - 1.02, P = 0.07).
Concurrent chemoradiotherapy significantly improved overall survival rate, reduced the risk of persistence and recurrence, but had little effect on the primary tumor response, and increased the occurrence of acute toxic effects.