A pragmatic randomised controlled trial of the cost-effectiveness of palliative therapies for patients with inoperable oesophageal cancer

Authors: Shenfine J, McNamee P, Steen N, Bond J, Griffin SM

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 9 Issue: 5

Publication date: February 2005

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3310/hta9050


Shenfine J, McNamee P, Steen N, Bond J, Griffin SM.A pragmatic randomised controlled trial of the cost-effectiveness of palliative therapies for patients with inoperable oesophageal cancer. Health Technol Assess 2005;9(5)

Download: Citation (for this publication as a .ris file) (3.3 KB)

Journal issues* can be purchased by completing the form.

The cost of reports varies according to number of pages and postage address. The minimum cost for a copy sent to a UK address is £30.00. We will contact you on receipt of your completed form to advise you of actual cost. If you have any queries, please contact nihredit@southampton.ac.uk.

*We regret that unfortunately we are unable to supply bound print copies of Health Technology Assessment published before issue 12:31. However, PDFs are available to print from the "Downloads" tab of the issue page.


No responses have been published. If you would like to submit a response to this publication, please do so using the form below.

Comments submitted to the NIHR Journals Library are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our readers to debate issues raised in research reports published in the Journals Library. We aim to post within 2 working days all responses that contribute substantially to the topic investigated, as determined by the Editors.

Your name and affiliations will be published with your comment.

Once published, you will not have the right to remove or edit your response. The Editors may add, remove, or edit comments at their absolute discretion.

Post your response



Middle Initial

Occupation / Job title

Affiliation / Employer



Other authors

For example, if you are responding as a team or group. Please ensure you include full names and separate these using commas

Statement of competing interests

We believe that readers should be aware of any competing interests (conflicts of interest).

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) define competing interests as including: financial relationships with industry (for example through employment, consultancies, stock, ownership, honoraria, and expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family; personal relationships; academic competition; and intellectual passion.

If yes, provide details below:

Enter response title

Enter response message


Security key

Regenerate security key

By submitting your response, you are stating that you agree to the terms & conditions

The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Downloads section on this page.



To compare whether treatment with self-expanding metal stents (SEMS) is more cost-effective than treatment with conventional modalities in patients with inoperable oesophageal cancer. Quality of life effects were also considered.


A multicentre pragmatic, randomised controlled trial with health economic analysis.


Seven NHS hospitals selected to represent a cross-section of UK hospitals in terms of facilities and staffing.


All patients attending the centres with oesophageal cancer deemed unsuitable for surgery were assessed for inclusion in the main trial; 217 patients were randomised. A health state utilities substudy was also performed in 71 patients who had previously received curative surgery for oesophageal cancer.


Eligible patients were randomised to one of four treatment groups within two study arms. Assessments were performed at enrolment, 1 week following treatment and thereafter at 6-weekly intervals until death, with prospective data collection on complications and survival. Structured interviews to elicit patient preferences to health states and treatments were performed in a substudy.

Main outcome measures

Dysphagia grade and quality of life were examined at 6 weeks. Survival, resources consumed from randomisation to death and quality-adjusted life-years were also considered.


There was no difference in cost or effectiveness between SEMS and non-SEMS therapies, and 18-mm SEMS had equal effectiveness to, but less associated pain than, 24-mm SEMS. Rigid intubation was associated with a worse quality of swallowing and increased late morbidity. Bipolar electrocoagulation and ethanol tumour necrosis were poor in primary palliation. A survival advantage was found for non-stent therapies, but there was a significant delay to treatment. The length of stay accounts for the majority of the cost to the NHS. Patients were found to have distinct individual treatment preferences.


It was suggested that rigid tubes and 24-mm SEMS should no longer be recommended and bipolar electrocoagulation and ethanol tumour necrosis should not be used for primary palliation. The choice in palliation would between non-stent and 18-mm SEMS treatments, with non-stent therapies being made more available and accessible to reduce delay. A multidisciplinary team approach to palliation is also suggested. A randomised controlled clinical trial of 18-mm SEMS versus non-stent therapies with survival and quality of life end-points would be helpful, as would an audit of palliative patient admissions to determine the reasons and need for inpatient hospital care, with a view to implementing cycle-associated change to reduce inpatient stay. A study of delays in palliative radiotherapy treatment is also suggested, with a view to implementing cycle-associated change to reduce waiting time.

Share this page

Email this page
Publication updates

If you would like to receive information on publications and the latest news, click below to sign up.