Current status of neoadjuvant therapy for adenocarcinoma of the distal esophagus

Johannes Zacherl, Andreas Sendler, Hubert J. Stein, Katja Ott, Marcus Feith, Raimund Jakesz, J. Rüdiger Siewert, Ulrich Fink

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37 Scopus citations


Prospective studies dealing with preoperative therapy in adenocarcinoma of the esophagus alone are rare. The interpretation of the preferential phase II trials and a few phase III trials is complicated, as most studies include adenocarcinoma of the esophagus (i.e., Barrett's carcinoma), adenocarcinoma of the esophagogastric junction (including cardia carcinoma and subcardia carcinoma), or squamous cell carcinoma. Preoperative chemotherapy, generally well tolerated, cannot decrease the incidence of local failure beyond the level achieved with surgery alone, but it might delay systemic relapse. Preoperative radiotherapy can enhance local control, but it fails to improve overall survival. Neoadjuvant chemoradiation was demonstrated in only one randomized trail to have a survival benefit, but survival in the surgery-alone group was unusually low. Generally, survival was ameliorated in patients responding to neoadjuvant treatment. However, preoperative chemoradiation was often accompanied by a remarkable increase in postoperative morbidity and mortality. Nonresponding patients have, in this respect, a worse prognosis than responders after resection. The prediction of responding patients to neoadjuvant therapy as well as the early identification of patients who will not respond is of utmost clinical importance. Today, there is no absolute evidence that neoadjuvant treatment for patients with potentially resectable Barrett's cancer prolongs survival. In patients with locally advanced, presumably not completely resectable adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, preoperative treatment appears to increase the chance for a curative resection and enhance survival in responding patients. Neoadjuvant treatment of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, as a consequence, is currently not the standard treatment and should be performed only within controlled clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1074
Number of pages8
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


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