Purpose: We investigated the incidences of pericardial and pleural effusions after definitive radiotherapy with or without concurrent chemotherapy were analyzed retrospectively. Methods: One hundred and forty-seven patients with esophageal cancer received definitive radiotherapy or concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCR). Follow-up chest Computed Tomography scans were reviewed to detect pericardial and pleural effusions. Adverse events were graded according to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Common Toxicity Criteria. Results: The median follow-up was 34 (range, 6 to 84) months. Numbers of eligible patients evaluated for pericardial and pleural effusions were 107 and 101, respectively. Pericardial effusions exceeding grade 1 and grade 2 toxicities were observed in 46 (43%) and 15 (14%) patients, respectively. The corresponding numbers for pleura! effusions were 44 (44%) and 18 (18%). Onset of effusion ranged from 1 to 65 months after treatment. Multivariate analysis identified radiation field width of the mediastinum exceeding 8 cm as a significant risk factor for both pericardial and pleural effusions. Age and field length exceeding 20 cm were identified as independent risk factors for pleural effusion. Conclusions: Pericardial and pleural effusions after radiotherapy or CCR are occasionally recognized as adverse events in patients with esophageal cancer. The mediastinal radiation field width can be a simple indicator for predicting those adverse events.
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