Background: We designed a trial of intensive multimodality therapy for carcinoma of the esophagus and gastroesophageal junction to assess tumor response and operability after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and to determine the impact of trimodality therapy on longterm survival.
Methods: Thirty-two patients with resectable (clinical stage IIa, n = 17; IIb, n = 1; III, n = 14) squamous cell cancer (n = 15) or adenocarcinoma (n = 17) were treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil, leukovorin), resection, and postoperative chemoradiotherapy (hydroxyurea, 5-fluorouracil; 50-66 Gy).
Results: Use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy yielded the following results: a measurable clinical response in 22 patients, stable disease in eight patients, disease progression in one patient, and death in one patient. Thirty-one patients underwent resection, with the following results: two operative deaths (6.5%) and nonfatal morbidity in 17 (59%); the median hospital stay was 13 days. Pathologic staging was stage 0, n = 1; I, n = 2; IIa, n = 11; IIb, n = 5; III, n = 7; and IV, n = 5. Postoperative chemoradiotherapy was completed in 23 patients with one death, for an overall treatment-related mortality rate of 12.5% (four of 32). At a mean follow-up of 22.5 months, median survival is 19.7 months and 14 patients are alive and disease free.
Conclusions: Neoadjuvant therapy for cancer of the esophagus and cardia results in good tumor response. Esophagectomy in this setting can be accomplished with acceptable morbidity and mortality. Results of an interim analysis of survival are encouraging and suggest that further investigation of this regimen is warranted.