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Major Perioperative Morbidity Does Not Affect Long-Term Survival in Patients Undergoing Esophagectomy for Cancer of the Esophagus or Gastroesophageal Junction

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The incidence of cancer of the esophagus/GE junction is dramatically increasing but continues to have a dismal prognosis. Esophagectomy provides the best opportunity for long-term cure but is hampered by increased rates of perioperative morbidity. We reviewed our large institutional experience to evaluate the impact of postoperative complications on the long-term survival of patients undergoing resection for curative intent.


We identified 237 patients who underwent esophagogastrectomy, with curative intent, for cancer between 1994 and 2008. Complications were graded using the previously published Clavien scale. Survival was calculated using Kaplan–Meier methodology and survival curves were compared using log-rank tests. Multivariate analysis was performed with continuous and categorical variables as predictors of survival, and examined with logistic regression and odds ratio confidence intervals.


There were 12 (5 %) perioperative deaths. The average age of all patients was 62 years, and the majority (82 %) was male. Complication grade did not significantly affect long-term survival, although patients with grade IV (serious) complications did have a decreased survival (p = 0.15). Predictors of survival showed that the minimally invasive type esophagectomy (p = 0.0004) and pathologic stage (p = 0.0007) were determining factors. There was a significant difference in overall survival among patients who experienced pneumonia (p = 0.00016) and respiratory complications (p = 0.0004), but this was not significant on multivariate analysis.


In this single-institution series, we found that major perioperative morbidity did not have a negative impact on long-term survival which is different than previous series. The impact of tumor characteristics at time of resection on long-term survival is of most importance.

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Correspondence to Adam C. Berger.

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Xia, B.T., Rosato, E.L., Chojnacki, K.A. et al. Major Perioperative Morbidity Does Not Affect Long-Term Survival in Patients Undergoing Esophagectomy for Cancer of the Esophagus or Gastroesophageal Junction. World J Surg 37, 408–415 (2013).

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