Palliative stenting for relief of dysphagia in patients with inoperable esophageal cancer: impact on quality of life

Chinthakandhi Madhusudhan, Sundeep S Saluja, Sujoy Pal, Vineet Ahuja, Pratap Saran, Nihar R Dash, Peush Sahni, Tushar K Chattopadhyay
Diseases of the Esophagus: Official Journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus 2009, 22 (4): 331-6
The aim of palliation in patients with inoperable esophageal cancer is to relieve dysphagia with minimal morbidity and mortality, and thus improve quality of life (QOL). The use of a self-expanding metal stent (SEMS) is a well-established modality for palliation of dysphagia in such patients. We assessed the QOL after palliative stenting in patients with inoperable esophageal cancer. Thirty-three patients with dysphagia due to inoperable esophageal cancer underwent SEMS insertion between October 2004 and December 2006. All patients had grade III/IV dysphagia and locally advanced unresectable cancer (n = 13), distant metastasis (n = 14), or comorbid conditions/poor general health status precluding a major surgical procedure (n = 6). Patients with grade I/II dysphagia and those with carcinoma of the cervical esophagus were excluded. The QOL was assessed using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 (version 3) and EORTC QLQ-Esophagus (OES) 18 questionnaire (a QOL scale specifically designed for esophageal diseases) before and at 1, 4, and 8 weeks after placement of the stent. The mean age of the patients was 56 (range 34-78) years, and 22 were men. A covered SEMS was used in all patients. The most common site of malignancy was the lower third of the esophagus (n = 18, 55%). In 23 (77%) patients, the stent crossed the gastroesophageal junction. Seven patients required a reintervention for stent block (n = 5) and stent migration (n = 2). Dysphagia improved significantly immediately after stenting, and this improvement persisted until 8 weeks (16.5 vs. 90.6; P < 0.01). The global health status (5.8 vs. 71.7; P < 0.01) and all functional scores improved significantly after stenting from baseline until 8 weeks. Except pain (14.1 vs. 17.7; P = 0.67), there was significant improvement in deglutition (22.7 vs. 2.0; P < 0.01), eating (48 vs. 12.6; P < 0.01), and other symptom scales (19.7 vs. 12.1; P = 0.04) following stenting. The median survival was 4 months (3-7 months). Palliative stenting using SEMS resulted in significant improvement in all scales of QOL without any mortality and acceptable morbidity.

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