Malignant tracheoesophageal fistula in patients with esophageal cancer

Juergen M. Gschossmann, James A. Bonner, Robert L. Foote, Edward G. Shaw, James A. Martenson, John Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background. Patients with esophageal cancer and a malignant tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) have an extremely poor prognosis. Additionally, these patients often are denied treatment with radiation therapy because there is concern that these treatments may increase the size and associated problems of the TEF. Methods. To determine the appropriate treatment (use of radiation therapy) for patients with esophageal cancer and malignant TEF, a review was performed of all such cases seen at the Mayo Clinic between 1971 and 1991. Results. Between 1971 and 1991,41 patients with malignant TEF arising as a result of esophageal cancer were seen at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Twenty‐eight of these cancers were locally recurrent, and this group of patients had a uniformly poor outcome (median survival time, 1.4 months). Thirteen patients had a malignant TEF and had not received previous treatment for their esophageal cancer. The median survival length was 4 months for this group of patients. Of the 41 patients in this study, 10 received radiation therapy for their malignant TEF (30–66 Gy). The median survival length of this group of patients was 4.8 months. Six of these 10 patients died of metastatic disease (median survival length, 9 months), and there was no evidence of progression of the local tumor. Four of these 10 patients died of local progression of the malignancy (median survival length, 3 months). Conclusions. Radiation therapy did not increase the severity of the TEF. The authors conclude that radiation therapy can be administered safely in patients with TEF resulting from esophageal cancer. In some patients, radiation treatment may contribute to stabilization of the local tumor process (60% of patients treated with radiation therapy died of metastatic disease without local progression of tumor); however, all patients in this study eventually died of esophageal cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1513-1521
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1993


  • esophageal cancer
  • prognosis
  • radiation therapy
  • tracheoesophageal fistula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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