Prognostic value of pathological lymph node status and primary tumour regression grading following neoadjuvant chemotherapy - results from the MRC OE02 oesophageal cancer trial.
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<h4>Aims</h4>Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) remains an important therapeutic option for advanced oesophageal cancer (OC). Pathological tumour regression grade (TRG) may offer additional information by directing adjuvant treatment and/or follow-up but its clinical value remains unclear. We analysed the prognostic value of TRG and associated pathological factors in OC patients enrolled in the Medical Research Council (MRC) OE02 trial.<h4>Methods and results</h4>Histopathology was reviewed in 497 resections from OE02 trial participants randomised to surgery (S group; n = 244) or NAC followed by surgery [chemotherapy plus surgery (CS) group; n = 253]. The association between TRG groups [responders (TRG1-3) versus non-responders (TRG4-5)], pathological lymph node (LN) status and overall survival (OS) was analysed. One hundred and ninety-five of 253 (77%) CS patients were classified as 'non-responders', with a significantly higher mortality risk compared to responders [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.05-2.24, P = 0.026]. OS was significantly better in patients without LN metastases irrespective of TRG [non-responders HR = 1.87, 95% CI = 1.33-2.63, P < 0.001 versus responders HR = 2.21, 95% CI = 1.11-4.10, P = 0.024]. In multivariate analyses, LN status was the only independent factor predictive of OS in CS patients (HR = 1.93, 95% CI = 1.42-2.62, P < 0.001). Exploratory subgroup analyses excluding radiotherapy-exposed patients (n = 48) showed similar prognostic outcomes.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Lymph node status post-NAC is the most important prognostic factor in patients with resectable oesophageal cancer, irrespective of TRG. Potential clinical implications, e.g. adjuvant treatment or intensified follow-up, reinforce the importance of LN dissection for staging and prognostication.
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Medicine (RMH Smith Cunningham)
Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology and Genomics
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Histopathology, 2018, 72 (7), pp. 1180 - 1188