BACKGROUND: Extending the original criteria of the Chemoradiotherapy for Oesophageal Cancer followed by Surgery Study (CROSS) in daily practice may increase the treatment outcome of esophageal cancer (EC) patients. This retrospective national cohort study assessed the impact on the pathologic complete response (pCR) rate and surgical outcome.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data from EC patients treated between 2009 and 2017 were collected from the national Dutch Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Audit database. Patients had locally advanced EC (cT1/N+ or cT2-4a/N0-3/M0) and were treated according to the CROSS regimen. CROSS (n = 1942) and the extended CROSS (e-CROSS; n = 1359) represent patients fulfilling the original or extended CROSS criteria, respectively. The primary outcome was total pCR (ypT0N0), while secondary outcomes were local esophageal pCR (ypT0), surgical radicality, and postoperative morbidity and mortality.
RESULTS: Overall, CROSS and e-CROSS did not differ in total or local pCR rate, although a trend was observed (23.2% vs. 20.4%, p = 0.052; and 26.7% vs. 23.8%, p = 0.061). When stratifying by histology, the pCR rate was higher in the CROSS group compared with e-CROSS in squamous cell carcinomas (48.2% vs. 33.3%, p = 0.000) but not in adenocarcinomas (16.8% vs. 16.9%, p = 0.908). Surgical radicality did not differ between groups. Postoperative mortality (3.2% vs. 4.6%, p = 0.037) and morbidity (58.3% vs. 61.8%, p = 0.048) were higher in e-CROSS.
CONCLUSION: Extending the CROSS inclusion criteria for neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in routine clinical practice of EC patients had no impact on the pCR rate and on radicality, but was associated with increased postoperative mortality and morbidity. Importantly, effects differed between histological subtypes. Hence, in future studies, we should carefully reconsider who will benefit most in the real-world setting.