Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) followed by surgery is standard of care for locally advanced esophageal cancer in many countries. After nCRT up to one third of all patients have a pathologically complete response in the resection specimen, posing an ethical imperative to reconsider the necessity of standard surgery in all operable patients after nCRT. An active surveillance strategy following nCRT, in which patients are subjected to frequent clinical investigations after the completion of neoadjuvant therapy, has been evaluated in other types of cancer with promising results. In esophageal cancer, both patients who are cured by neoadjuvant therapy alone as well as patients with subclinical disseminated disease at the time of completion of neoadjuvant therapy may benefit from such an organ sparing approach. Active surveillance is currently applied in selected patients with esophageal cancer who refuse surgery or are medically unfit for major surgery after completion of nCRT, but this strategy is not (yet) adopted as an alternative to standard surgery or definitive chemoradiation. The available literature is scarce, but suggests that long-term oncological outcomes after active surveillance are noninferior compared to standard surgical resection, providing justification for comparison of both treatments in a phase III trial. This review gives an overview of the current knowledge regarding active surveillance after completion of nCRT in esophageal cancer and outlines future research perspectives.

, , ,,
Diseases of the Esophagus
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Noordman, B. J., Wijnhoven, B., Lagarde, S., Biermann, K., van der Gaast, A., Spaander, M., … van Lanschot, J. (2017). Active surveillance in clinically complete responders after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for esophageal or junctional cancer. Diseases of the Esophagus, 30(12). doi:10.1093/dote/dox100