Oesophageal cancer patients who suffer sarcopenia have lower
Oesophageal cancer patients who suffer loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) during neoadjuvant therapy (chemotherapy prior to surgery) survive, on average, 32 months less than patients with no sarcopenia. This is the central finding of a recent study conducted at the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital. The study has recently been published in the European Journal of Cancer Surgery.

Oesophageal cancer is the eighth commonest type of cancer and sixth commonest cause of death from cancer in Austria. According to "Statistik Austria", approximately 420 people develop this type of cancer every year. This means that oesophageal cancer is a rare form of cancer but the number of cases has grown rapidly over the past few years. The number of cases in men has risen sixfold and has quadrupled in women, men being more likely to develop this type of cancer than women.

Apart from smoking and high alcohol consumption, risk factors for oesophageal cancer also include gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and the resulting cell changes in the lower part of the oesophagus (Barrett metaplasia). The standard treatment for patients in which the tumour is advanced but not yet metastasised, is to give chemotherapy or a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy prior to surgery (multimodal therapy). In local carcinomas that are not advanced, surgery is the treatment of choice.