PURPOSE - Preoperative paclitaxel-based chemoradiotherapy may improve the response rates and survival in patients with localized esophageal cancer. We evaluated paclitaxel-based induction chemoradiotherapy in patients with localized esophageal cancer to determine its feasibility, clinical response, pathologic response, and overall survival.
METHODS AND MATERIALS - Between 1995 and 1998, 50 patients were enrolled in this study. At study entry, patients were categorized as either resectable or unresectable according to evaluation by an experienced thoracic surgeon. All patients were treated with paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 and cisplatin 75 mg/m2 on Day 1, 29 with radiotherapy to 3,000 cGy in 15 fractions. Resectable patients underwent esophagectomy 4 weeks later. Postoperatively, patients received two cycles of paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 on Day 1 and 5-fluorouracil 350 mg/m2 and leucovorin 300 mg on Days 1-3, given every 28 days. Patients who were deemed unsuitable for resection from the outset continued radiotherapy to a total dose of 6,000 cGy.
RESULTS - Of the 50 patients, all began neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, 40 patients underwent surgery, and 25 patients completed postoperative chemotherapy. A pathologic complete response was seen in 7 patients (17.5%). Patients with a pathologic response had a median survival of 32.4 months vs. 14.4 months for nonresponders (p < 0.001). Patients with a clinical response had a median survival of 25.2 months compared with 15.6 months for nonresponders (p = 0.002). At a median follow up of 19.8 months (range 2.4-100.8), the median survival was 20.4 months and the 3-year overall survival rate was 23.2%.
CONCLUSION - Although preoperative cisplatin/paclitaxel with 3,000 cGy was tolerable, this multimodality regimen did not appear to be superior to standard cisplatin/5-fluorouracil-containing regimens and its use is not recommended.