Background: Although radical esophagectomy with multifield lymph node dissection is a promising treatment to achieve long-term survival for resectable esophageal cancer, survival after postoperative recurrence remains poor. To select the optimal treatment for patients with recurrent esophageal cancer, simple, objective indicators for predicting of long-term outcomes are needed. Patients and Methods: We conducted a single-institution, retrospective cohort study between 2004 and 2019, wherein 586 patients underwent transthoracic esophagectomy for primary esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Of these, 133 patients with postoperative recurrence were included in this analysis. Several predictors of survival after recurrence were investigated. Results: Among all patients, the 1- and 3-year survival rates after recurrence were 48.0% and 23.1%, respectively. On multivariate analysis, the neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) at recurrence was identified as a significant predictor of death after recurrence (hazard ratio 1.061; 95% confidence interval 1.002–1.125; p = 0.043). Time-dependent receiver operating characteristics curves showed that the area under the curve value of the NLR at recurrence was superior to the modified Glasgow Prognostic Score at recurrence in all terms. To simulate the clinical decision process, we set the cut-off NLR at recurrence for survival using survival classification and regression tree (CART) and defined the optimal cut-off value as 3.374. Conclusions: NLR at recurrence was a significant indicator of survival after recurrence in patients with recurrent esophageal cancer. CART analysis was used to determine the optimal cut-off value for the prediction of survival, allowing the NLR to be used clinically to facilitate decision making.
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