Article Abstract

Non responders to neoadjuvant chemoradiation for esophageal cancer: why better prediction is necessary

Authors: Chantal M. den Bakker, Justin K. Smit, Anna M. E. Bruynzeel, Nicole C. T. van Grieken, Freek Daams, Sarah Derks, Miguel A. Cuesta, John T. M. Plukker, Donald L. van der Peet


Background: Patients with pathologic limited or no response (pNR) to neoadjuvant chemoradiation (nCRT) are subjected to curative intended esophagectomy with subsequent perioperative morbidity and mortality, but potentially only harm from nCRT. The primary aim of this study was to compare the overall survival (OS) of patients with pNR and patients who underwent primary esophagectomy to evaluate potentially benefits of nCRT in these patients. The secondary aim was to identify predictive clinicopathologic factors for pNR and pathologic complete response (pCR) to nCRT with the goal to preselect these patients before the start of treatment.
Methods: From the period 2005 to 2016, 206 esophageal cancer (EC) patients treated with Carboplatin/Paclitaxel and radiotherapy with complementary esophagectomy were included in this cohort. OS of patients with pNR was compared with a historical cohort of primary surgically treated patients (n=218) after a propensity score matching resulting in a group of 68 patients with pNR after nCRT versus a group of 68 primary esophagectomy patients.
Results: The OS in the pNR group and the primary esophagectomy group was comparable (P=0.986). No predictive factors were found in this cohort for pNR. Female gender (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.2–5.3) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.3–5.3) were identified as independent predictive factors for pCR.
Conclusions: Patients with a pNR do not benefit from nCRT followed by resection. These patients had a similar OS as those who had a primary esophagectomy alone. Although this indicates that nCRT does not negatively impact the OS of patients with pNR, patients still have an increased morbidity because of nCRT. Hence, it is important to identify factors that predict pNR. The ability to predict pNR (and pCR) will enable tailored and personalized care preventing unnecessary nCRT with increased morbidity.