BACKGROUND - We investigated whether differences in postoperative survival exist based on the presence and site of residual tumor (esophagus vs regional lymph nodes) after preoperative chemoXRT in patients with esophageal cancer. Based on these data, we reevaluated the role of EUS in identifying patients who maximally benefit from surgical esophageal resection after preoperative chemoXRT.
METHODS - We studied 97 consecutive esophageal cancer patients treated with preoperative chemoXRT and a potentially curative surgical procedure between 1998 to 2001. All patients had EUS examination prior to chemoXRT and 53 had a repeat EUS examination after chemoXRT but prior to surgery. Surgical resection specimens were analyzed for absence or presence of residual tumor and its location.
RESULTS - Patients with residual tumor in the esophagus (pathT1-3N0) and patients without residual tumor (pathT0N0) had similar cumulative survival (p= 0.92). Patients with residual cancer in lymph nodes showed a trend toward shorter cumulative survival compared to patients without residual tumor in lymph nodes (p= 0.086). The actuarial survival in pathN1 group was lower than pathN0 group at 1, 2, and 3 yr. Patients with significant residual lymphadenopathy detected by EUS after therapy had significantly worse postoperative survival compared to patients with no residual lymphadenopathy (p= 0.028). In eight patients, we found that reliable cytologic identification of residual malignancy was technically feasible by EUS-FNA after chemoradiation therapy.
CONCLUSIONS - Following preoperative chemoXRT and surgery, patients with residual tumor in the regional lymph nodes have lower actuarial survival at 1, 2, and 3 yr after surgery, compared to patients with path CR or with residual tumor only in the esophagus. EUS and EUS-guided FNA can be helpful in identifying residual tumor in the lymph nodes after preoperative chemoXRT to select patients who benefit maximally from surgery.