Background: Patients with esophageal carcinoma who appear to have a complete response at the primary tumor site after undergoing neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy may still have residual disease in regional lymph nodes despite clinically negative restaging (ypT0N1). We hypothesized that these patients would have similar survival to patients with incomplete response to therapy. Methods: We reviewed 336 esophageal cancer patients who received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy followed by complete resection. We identified 20 patients who obtained complete pathologic response at the primary tumor with persistent metastatic disease to regional lymph nodes (ypT0N1). These patients were compared to 123 patients with pathologic complete response and 193 with partial response for overall survival. Results: Demographics among the three groups of patients were similar except that this cohort of patients with ypT0N1 had higher initial clinical stage (p = 0.013) and had more squamous cell carcinoma pathology (p = 0.005). Eighty-six percent of the ypT0N1 patients who had modern preoperative staging were felt to have clinical complete response. Five-year survival of ypT0N1 patients was intermediate, similar to pathologic partial response stage II patients in both the sixth and seventh editions of the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging criteria. Conclusions: Clinical staging of complete response to chemoradiotherapy may not translate to pathologic complete response. Patients with ypT0N1 disease at resection have intermediate but reasonable survival, justifying an aggressive approach to curative therapy. Future revisions of the staging system should place this group of patients with patients who have metastatic regional lymph nodes, stratified by number of nodes involved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine