Prognostic Value of Pretreatment Pathological Tumor Extent in Patients Treated With Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy Plus Surgery for Esophageal or Junctional Cancer

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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.


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.


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.


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.

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