(HealthDay News) — For patients with advanced esophageal cancer, dysphagia is improved with radiotherapy alone, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology, held from Sept. 14 to 18 in San Francisco.

Michael Penniment, M.B.B.S., from the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia, and colleagues randomized patients to receive a course of palliative radiotherapy (15 Gy in 15 fractions [115 patients] or 130 Gy in 10 fractions [105 patients]) or concomitant chemoradiotherapy with cisplatin and fluorouracil. The authors examined dysphagia, toxicity, and quality of life in patients, with the primary end point being the proportion of patients with improved dysphagia measured at week nine.

The researchers found that the dysphagia response was 67.89 percent for patients receiving radiotherapy alone, compared to 73.87 percent for chemoradiotherapy (P = 0.343). In patients receiving chemoradiotherapy, there was increased gastrointestinal toxicity (nausea [P = 0.0019] and vomiting [P = 0.0072]). Median survival was 210 and 203 days for chemoradiotherapy and radiotherapy alone, respectively.

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“These results will allow us to simplify the treatment for patients who cannot be cured but who can expect an improvement in swallowing and quality of life as a result of radiotherapy alone; and these patients can be spared the extra toxicity and cost of chemotherapy,” Penniment said in a statement.

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