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January 14, 1974

Value of Radiation Therapy

JAMA. 1974;227(2):181-183. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230150033009

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Long survival for patients with esophageal cancer was achieved sporadically in the first decade of this century by the use of radium bougies, thereafter by kilovoltage x-ray therapy, and in the 1930s by resection. Since then, refinements of both surgical and radiation techniques have improved results. When Tanner and Smithers12 published their comprehensive review of esophageal cancer in 1961, they reported 335 five-year-survivor cases from the world literature. Of those patients with cancer in the upper two thirds of the esophagus, 55 had survived five years following radiation therapy, and 45 survived five years following surgery. Of patients with tumors in the lower third of the esophagus, 19 of the five-year survivors had been irradiated, and 119 were treated surgically. Although the number of survivors has been increased considerably, the proportions in the various groups have probably changed little to this day. Since 1961, radiation therapy with the use