Background: The correlation between postoperative systemic inflammation and cancer survival needs to be elucidated. This study evaluated postoperative inflammation using the peak concentration of postoperative serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and duration of CRP elevation, then investigated its correlation with prognosis. Methods: The study retrospectively reviewed 216 consecutive patients who underwent curative transthoracic esophagectomy at the authors’ institution between 2004 and 2012. The postoperative serum CRP levels in 215 patients were analyzed during 14 days after esophagectomy. The patients’ characteristics, surgical procedures, postoperative complications, and survival were investigated. To evaluate postoperative inflammatory status objectively using CRP, patients with a delayed CRP level peak and persistent CRP elevation were classified as having an intense postoperative inflammatory response (IIR). Results: The distributions of postoperative pathologic stages 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 were respectively 5, 70, 58, 66, and 16. Regarding postoperative complications, pneumonia was diagnosed in 42 patients (20 %), anastomotic leakage in 32 patients (15 %), and superficial surgical-site infection in 21 patients (10 %). A delayed CRP level peak was observed in 88 patients (41 %) and persistent CRP elevation in 49 patients (23 %). Overall, 31 patients (14 %) were classified as having IIR. In the survival analysis, the patients with IIR showed a significantly shorter overall survival. In the multivariate analysis, using histology, neoadjuvant treatment, field of lymph node dissection, pathologic stage, and IIR as covariates, IIR was seen as a significantly independent predictive factor for overall survival (hazard ratio 2.019; P = 0.019). Conclusions: In this study, IIR was significantly correlated with postoperative survival. Therefore, the oncologic benefit of reducing postoperative inflammation in esophageal cancer needs to be investigated.
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