Neoadjuvant chemotherapy with or without neoadjuvant radiotherapy compared with neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for esophageal cancer

Yan Zheng, Xianben Liu, Ruixiang Zhang, Zongfei Wang, Haibo Sun, Jianjun Qin, Shilei Liu, Yin Li


Background: Although it was controversial for treating locally advanced resectable esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (NACR) was more widely accepted rather than neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) worldwide. With the development of paclitaxel, a high response rate to NAC was reported in many studies. Our hypothesis is that lots of patients could get a response from NAC alone and avoid unnecessary NACR. Those who had no response from NAC could still response from the followed radiotherapy. We attempted to circumvent the controversy over the use of NAC, NACR and made a combined version, NAC ± neoadjuvant radiotherapy (NAR).
Methods: The retrospective study compared NAC ± NAR with NACR between June 30, 2015 and October 31, 2016. Sixty consecutive borderline resectable ESCC were included: thirty-one in NAC ± NAR group and 29 in NACR group. The toxicities, response rates, operative data, complications, length of stay, and overall survival (OS) rates were evaluated.
Results: The response rate to NAC ± NAR was 93.5%; to NACR was 86.2%. There was no grade 3–4 non-hematologic adverse events after NAC ± NAR, but three in the NACR group. Arrhythmias (6.5% vs. 37.9%, P=0.003), pneumonitis (25.8% vs. 51.7%, P=0.039) and anastomotic leakage (0% vs. 13.8%, P=0.049) were more likely in NACR group. Postoperative hospitalization stays were significantly prolonged in the NACR (9 vs. 16 d, P<0.001). A point estimate of the 2-year OS rate of the NAC ± NAR group was 84.0%, the NACR group 80.7% (P=0.410).
Conclusions: Compared with NACR, the NAC ± NACR provided the same survival benefits but low post operation complication rate. In the future, it might be a choice for locally advanced ESCC.