Women with locally advanced esophageal cancer that is treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy before surgery are more likely to have a favorable response to their cancer treatment and less likely to have recurrence than men are, according to the results of a study published in Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Esophageal cancer is four times more common in men than in women, and five-year survival rates hover around 20%.

The researchers analyzed data from 366 patients (145 women and 221 men). Seventy-two percent of the women and 87% of the men had adenocarcinoma (originating in gland cells in the lower esophagus), and 28% of women and 13% of men had squamous cell carcinoma (originating in the cells that line the esophagus).

Fifty-eight percent of women and 47% of men in either group had a complete or near complete pathologic response, but men had an 80% increased risk of recurrence. Although not statistically significant, women had a trend toward a superior five-year survival (52.1% of women versus 44.0% of men).

“By focusing on individualized and targeted approaches to esophageal cancer treatment, we may be more successful in improving outcomes for future patients,” the researchers concluded.