Interstitial lung abnormalities (ILAs) represent nondependent abnormalities on chest computed tomography (CT) indicating lung parenchymal damages due to inflammation and fibrosis. Interstitial lung abnormalities have been studied as a predictor of clinical outcome in lung cancer, but not in other thoracic malignancies. The present study investigated the prevalence of ILA in patients with esophageal cancer and identified risk factors and clinical implications of ILA in these patients.
The study included 208 patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer (median age, 65.6 years; 166 males, 42 females). Interstitial lung abnormality was scored on baseline CT scans before treatment using a 3-point scale (0 = no evidence of ILA, 1 = equivocal for ILA, 2 = ILA). Clinical characteristics and overall survival were compared in patients with ILA (score 2) and others.
An ILA was present in 14 of 208 patients (7%) with esophageal cancer on pretreatment chest CT. Patients with ILA were significantly older (median age, 69 vs 65, respectively; P = 0.011), had a higher number of pack-years of smoking (P = 0.02), and more commonly had T4 stage disease (P = 0.026) than patients with ILA score of 1 or 0. Interstitial lung abnormality on baseline scan was associated with a lack of surgical resection after chemoradiotherapy (7/14, 50% vs 39/194, 20% respectively; P = 0.016). Interstitial lung abnormality was not associated with overall survival (log-rank P = 0.75, Cox P = 0.613).
An ILA was present in 7% of esophageal cancer patients, which is similar to the prevalence in general population and in smokers. Interstitial lung abnormality was strongly associated with a lack of surgical resection after chemoradiotherapy, indicating an implication of ILA in treatment selection in these patients, which can be further studied in larger cohorts.