Esophageal Cancer Facts That Defy Logic

Esophageal cancer patients with multiple primary cancers live longer than patients without MPC

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Patients who have esophageal cancer can also have what's known as multiple primary cancers (MPC). These cancers appear before or at the same time as the esophageal cancer.

Scientists wanted to know if radiation therapy (radiotherapy) helped patients who have esophageal cancer and MPC.

The outlook for patients with esophageal cancer who are treated with radiotherapy depends on how advanced the cancer is.

According to a recent study, the presence of MPC did not affect a patient’s prognosis.

"Visit a doctor if your heartburn doesn’t get better."

Katsuyuki Shirai, of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Gunma Prefectural Cancer Center in Gunma, Japan, led the study that reviewed the outcomes of 167 esophageal patients treated with radiotherapy between 2001 and 2008.

Patients were followed for nearly 32 months. The average age of participants was 69.

A total of 56 patients (33.5 percent) had MPC. Gastric (stomach) cancer was the most common tumor, and was found in 38.2 percent of patients with MPC.

The next most frequent cancer was head and neck cancer - seen in 26.5 percent of the study participants who had MPC.

MPC appeared in more people with early (stage l/ll) esophageal cancer. A total of 66 percent of early esophageal cancer patients had MPC.

Researchers found that patients who had MPC actually lived longer than patients who did not have multiple tumors.

The five-year survival rate among MPC patients was 46 percent, compared to 27 percent of patients without MPC. With further analysis, this difference was not statistically significant, the authors reported.

The main lifespan difference was seen in patients with early and late stage esophageal cancer, as is case with most cancers.

The five-year survival for stage l/ll patients with and without MPC was 47.6 percent and 50.7 percent.

Just over 38 percent of stage lll/lV patients with MPC were alive after five years, compared 15.8 percent of patients without MPC.

“Our study indicated that the prognosis of esophageal cancer patients treated by radiotherapy was primarily determined by the clinical stage itself, but not the presence of MPC,” the authors concluded.

This study was published in the February issue of the Journal of Radiation Research. Funding information was not provided.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 21, 2013
Last Updated:
February 24, 2013