We aimed to determine pretreatment pathological tumor extent in the resection specimen after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) and to assess its prognostic value in patients with esophageal cancer.Methods:
Patients with esophageal cancer, treated with nCRT plus surgery were included (2003–2011). Pretreatment pathological T-stage (prepT-stage) and N-stage (prepN-stage) were estimated based on the extent of regressional changes and residual tumor cells in the resection specimen. Interobserver agreement was determined between 3 pathologists. The prognostic performance of prepT-stage and prepN-stage was scored using the difference in Akaike information criterion (ΔAIC). PrepN-stage and posttreatment pathological N-stage (ypN-stage) were combined to determine the effect of nodal sterilization on prognosis.Results:
Overall concordance for prepT-stage and prepN-stage was 0.69 and 0.84, respectively. Prognostic strength of prepT-stage was similar to clinical T-stage and worse compared with ypT-stage (ΔAIC 1.3 versus 2.0 and 8.9, respectively). In contrast, prognostic strength of prepN-stage was better than cN-stage and similar to ypN-stage (ΔAIC 17.9 versus 6.2 and 17.2, respectively). PrepN+ patients who become ypN0 after nCRT have a worse survival compared with prepN0 patients, with a five year overall survival of 51% versus 68%, P = 0.019, respectively.Conclusions:
PrepT-stage and prepN-stage can be estimated reproducibly. Prognostic strength of prepT-stage is comparable with clinical T-stage, whereas prepN-stage is better than cN-stage. PrepN+ patients who become ypN0 after nCRT have a worse survival compared with prepN0 patients. Pretreatment pathological staging should be considered useful as a new staging parameter for esophageal cancer and could also be of interest for other tumor types.