OBJECTIVES: To assess the complementary value of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-related biological tumor markers to clinico-radiomic models in predicting complete response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (NCRT) in esophageal cancer patients.
METHODS: Expression of HER2 was assessed by immunohistochemistry in pre-treatment tumor biopsies of 96 patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer. Five other potentially active HER2-related biological tumor markers in esophageal cancer were examined in a sub-analysis on 43 patients. Patients received at least four of the five cycles of chemotherapy and full radiotherapy regimen followed by esophagectomy. Three reference clinico-radiomic models based on 18F-FDG PET were constructed to predict pathologic response, which was categorized into complete versus incomplete (Mandard tumor regression grade 1 vs. 2-5). The complementary value of the biological tumor markers was evaluated by internal validation through bootstrapping.
RESULTS: Pathologic examination revealed 21 (22%) complete and 75 (78%) incomplete responders. HER2 and cluster of differentiation 44 (CD44), analyzed in the sub-analysis, were univariably associated with pathologic response. Incorporation of HER2 and CD44 into the reference models improved the overall performance (R2s of 0.221, 0.270, and 0.225) and discrimination AUCs of 0.759, 0.857, and 0.816. All models exhibited moderate to good calibration. The remaining studied biological tumor markers did not yield model improvement.
CONCLUSIONS: Incorporation of HER2 and CD44 into clinico-radiomic prediction models improved NCRT response prediction in esophageal cancer. These biological tumor markers are promising in initial response evaluation.
KEY POINTS: • A multimodality approach, integrating independent genomic and radiomic information, is promising to improve prediction of γpCR in patients with esophageal cancer. • HER2 and CD44 are potential biological tumor markers in the initial work-up of patients with esophageal cancer. • Prediction models combining 18F-FDG PET radiomic features with HER2 and CD44 may be useful in the decision to omit surgery after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in patients with esophageal cancer.