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Original Article
March 1998

Quality of Life in Patients With Cancer of the Esophagus and Gastric Cardia: A Case for Palliative Resection

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, University of Hong Kong Medical Centre, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.

Arch Surg. 1998;133(3):316-322. doi:10.1001/archsurg.133.3.316

Objective  To evaluate quality-of-life (QOL) parameters in patients undergoing esophagectomy, curative or palliative, for carcinoma.

Design  Nonconsecutive case series.

Patients  Eighty-eight patients who underwent esophagectomy for cancer (curative, n=49 [56]; palliative, n=39 [44]) provided QOL assessments over an 18-month period.

Setting  Procedures for referral care were performed by a single team of clinicians in a tertiary referral center. Evaluations of QOL were made by 1 independent trained investigator.

Outcome Measures  Data were documented by questionnaire at interview and parameters evaluated included an esophageal module for the type and quantity of food intake, severity of related symptoms on eating, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Groups (ECOG) performance status, sleep, pain, leisure activity, working capacity, outlook on life, general well-being, and support from family and friends. A summation of selected parameters was used to calculate a total score.

Results  Significant improvements were recorded in both the curative and palliative groups for at least 1 year following surgery in the type (P<.03) and quantity (P<.03) of food intake and severity of diet-related symptoms (P<.02), when compared with preoperative considerations. Findings were comparable between the groups with regard to dietary intake. Pain status and total scores were worse in the palliative group at 9 months postoperatively but no significant differences between the groups were evident at any time for sleep, leisure activity, and ECOG performance status.

Conclusions  To our knowledge, there are no previous data regarding a comparison of QOL considerations in patients who have undergone either potentially curative or palliative esophagectomy for malignant disease. Data analysis revealed that palliative esophagectomy provided enhanced QOL with marked symptomatic benefits and enjoyment of daily living comparable to that observed following curative resection.