Purpose: Postoperative sarcopenia following esophagectomy for esophageal cancer has become a severe problem due to the increasing number of elderly patients undergoing surgery. This study aimed to clarify the relationship between early postoperative skeletal muscle change and cancer prognosis, and propose effective interventions to prevent sarcopenia. Methods: This study retrospectively analyzed 152 patients who underwent esophagectomy for esophageal cancer. Total psoas muscle area (TPA) was measured before surgery as baseline and on postoperative day 7 (± 2). The effect of early postoperative skeletal muscle loss on 5-year survival was investigated. Moreover, 5-year survival in patients with postoperative complications and a high inflammatory status, which were previously reported as poor prognostic factors of esophageal cancer, was also investigated. Results: Among the 152 patients, 52 (34.2%) showed a decrease in TPA, while 100 (65.8%) maintained their TPA. The TPA decreasing group exhibited poor 5-year overall survival (OS) (p = 0.003) and 5-year recurrence-free survival (RFS) (p < 0.001). The TPA decreasing group also showed a poor 5-year OS in patients who developed severe postoperative complications (p = 0.015). Multivariate analyses showed that decreased TPA was found to be independently associated with OS (p = 0.017) as well as RFS (p = 0.002). Conclusions: Our findings suggested a relationship between decreased TPA within 1 week after esophagectomy and long-term prognosis among patients with esophageal cancer. If TPA can be maintained, the prognosis was better even in cases with serious complications.
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