Background: Despite obvious advances over the last decades, locally advanced adenocarcinomas of the gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) still carry a dismal prognosis with overall 5-year survival rates of less than 50% even when using modern optimized treatment protocols such as perioperative chemotherapy based on the FLOT regimen or radiochemotherapy. Therefore the question remains whether neoadjuvant chemotherapy or neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy is eliciting the best results in patients with GEJ cancer. Hence, an adequately powered multicentre trial comparing both therapeutic strategies is clearly warranted.
Methods: The RACE trial is a an investigator initiated multicenter, prospective, randomized, stratified phase III clinical trial and seeks to investigate the role of preoperative induction chemotherapy (2 cycles of FLOT: 5-FU, leucovorin, oxaliplatin, docetaxel) with subsequent preoperative radiochemotherapy (oxaliplatin weekly, 5-FU plus concurrent fractioned radiotherapy to a dose of 45 Gy) compared to preoperative chemotherapy alone (4 cycles of FLOT), both followed by resection and postoperative completion of chemotherapy (4 cycles of FLOT), in the treatment of locally advanced, potentially resectable adenocarcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction. Patients with cT3-4, any N, M0 or cT2 N+, M0 adenocarcinoma of the GEJ are eligible for inclusion. The RACE trial aims to enrol 340 patients to be allocated to both treatment arms in a 1:1 ratio stratified by tumour site. The primary endpoint of the trial is progression-free survival assessed with follow-up of maximum 60 months. Secondary endpoints include overall survival, R0 resection rate, number of harvested lymph nodes, site of tumour relapse, perioperative morbidity and mortality, safety and toxicity and quality of life.
Discussion: The RACE trial compares induction chemotherapy with FLOT followed by preoperative oxaliplatin and 5-Fluorouracil-based chemoradiation versus preoperative chemotherapy with FLOT alone, both followed by surgery and postoperative completion of FLOT chemotherapy in the treatment of locally advanced, non-metastatic adenocarcinoma of the GEJ. The trial aims to show superiority of the combined chemotherapy/radiochemotherapy treatment, assessed by progression-free survival, over perioperative chemotherapy alone.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov ; NCT04375605 ; Registered 4th May 2020.
Keywords: FLOT; Locally advanced adenocarcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction; Neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy; Perioperative chemotherapy.