Objective: To determine whether adjuvant chemotherapy (AC) after neoadjuvant chemoradiation and esophagectomy is associated with improved overall survival for patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer, and to evaluate how pathologic disease response to neoadjuvant treatment impacts this effect.
Background: Neoadjuvant chemoradiation is currently the preferred management approach for locoregional esophageal cancer. Although there is interest in the use of AC, the benefit of systemic therapy after neoadjuvant chemoradiation and esophagectomy is unclear.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study of patients with esophageal cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation and esophagectomy in the National Cancer Data Base (2006-2012).
Results: Among 3592 patients with esophageal cancer (84.7% adenocarcinoma, 15.2% squamous cell carcinoma), 335 (9.3%) were treated with AC. AC was not associated with a significantly lower risk of death among patients with no residual disease (ypT0N0) or residual non-nodal disease (ypT+N0). Among patients with residual nodal disease (ypTanyN+), AC was associated with a 30% lower risk of death in the overall cohort [hazard ratio (HR) 0.70, (0.57-0.85)] and among those with adenocarcinoma [HR 0.69 (0.57-0.85)]. Using a 90-day postoperative landmark, findings were similar. Among patients with postoperative length of stay ≤10 days and no unplanned readmission, AC was associated with approximately 40% lower risk of death among patients with residual nodal disease [overall cohort, HR 0.63 (0.48-0.84); adenocarcinoma, HR 0.66 (0.49-0.88)].
Conclusions: AC after neoadjuvant chemoradiation and esophagectomy is associated with improved survival in patients with residual nodal disease. Our findings suggest AC may provide additional benefit for esophageal cancer patients, and merits further investigation.