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Assessment of Sarcopenia as a Predictor of Poor Outcomes After Esophagectomy in Elderly Patients With Esophageal Cancer

Nakashima, Yuichiro, MD, PhD; Saeki, Hiroshi, MD, PhD, FACS; Nakanishi, Ryota, MD, PhD; Sugiyama, Masahiko, MD, PhD; Kurashige, Junji, MD, PhD; Oki, Eiji, MD, PhD, FACS; Maehara, Yoshihiko, MD, PhD, FACS

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002252

Objective: The objective of the study was to elucidate the impact of sarcopenia in elderly patients with esophageal cancer on postoperative complications and long-term survival after surgery for esophageal cancer.

Summary Background Data: Sarcopenia, defined as loss of skeletal muscle mass with age, has been identified as a poor prognostic factor for malignancies. This retrospective study investigated the effect of sarcopenia on surgical outcomes among young and elderly patients with esophageal cancer.

Methods: Data were collected for 341 consecutive patients who underwent esophagectomy for esophageal cancer. Patients were assigned to 2 groups according to age (younger than 65 years and 65 years or older) and the presence of sarcopenia.

Results: Sarcopenia was present in 170 of 341 patients (49.9%) with esophageal cancer and in 74 of 166 elderly patients (44.6%). The incidence of anastomotic leak and in-hospital death was significantly higher in the elderly sarcopenia group than in the elderly nonsarcopenia group (31.5% vs 15.2%, P = 0.015, 6.8 vs 0.0%, P = 0.037, respectively), and the overall survival rate in patients with sarcopenia correlated with a significantly poor prognosis in the elderly group (P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that sarcopenia was a risk factor for an anastomotic leak (P = 0.034) and was an unfavorable prognostic factor for survival (P < 0.001). Those correlations between sarcopenia and surgical outcomes were not observed in the young group.

Conclusions: Sarcopenia and worse surgical outcomes were significantly associated patients with in esophageal cancer aged 65 years and older but not in those younger than 65 years.

Department of Surgery and Science, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.

Reprints: Yuichiro Nakashima, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery and Science, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, 812-8582 Fukuoka, Japan. E-mail:

Disclosures: This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology of Japan.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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