Background: Skeletal muscle wasting during curative treatment is an important issue faced by esophageal cancer patients. However, it has not been clarified whether skeletal muscle change during neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery adversely affects prognosis. This study aimed to determine the relation between skeletal muscle change and survival for patients with advanced esophageal cancer who underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery. Methods: This study retrospectively analyzed 66 patients with thoracic esophageal cancer who had undergone neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by esophagectomy. The study investigated the correlation between the change in the total muscle cross-sectional area at the third lumbar vertebra before and 4 months after surgery as well as the postoperative recurrence and overall survival (OS). Results: Of the 66 patients, 39 (59%) showed a skeletal muscle decrease from baseline to 4 months after esophagectomy. The change in the skeletal muscle index from baseline to 4 months after surgery was −1.2 cm2/m2. Multivariable analysis showed that nonsquamous cell carcinoma subtype (hazard ratio [HR] 2.57; p = 0.029), pathologic stage (HR 5.73; p < 0.01), and skeletal muscle wasting (HR per 1 unit decrease in skeletal muscle index, 1.16; p = 0.015) were the independent prognostic factors associated with worse OS. Additionally, pathologic stage (HR 6.03; p < 0.01) and skeletal muscle wasting (HR per 1 unit decrease in skeletal muscle index, 1.11; p = 0.048) also were found to be independent prognostic factors associated with worse recurrence-free survival. Conclusions: The study findings suggest that skeletal muscle wasting from baseline has a negative impact on cancer recurrence and survival.
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