Stop hedging your bets: Reasons for non-adherence to a tri-modality regimen in the treatment of esophageal cancer in a multidisciplinary setting

Ramtin Rahmani, Daniel Koffler, Kelly R. Haisley, John G. Hunter, Claude Poliakoff, Charles R. Thomas, John M. Holland, James P. Dolan, Nima Nabavizadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: In locally-advanced esophageal cancer (LAEC), providers' concerns regarding eventual surgical candidacy can persuade physicians to defer to definitive doses of 50 Gy or higher preoperatively. We report the successful completion rate of tri-modality therapy (TMT) (documented at the outset) and reasons for TMT non-adherence at a large multi-disciplinary esophageal program. Methods: LAEC patients diagnosed 2007-2016 from a prospective institutional database were subdivided into CRT/S+ [completed chemoradiation (CRT) and surgery] and CRT/S- (CRT and no subsequent surgery) groups. Chart review provided surgery non-adherence reasons. Results: A total of 283 patients met planned TMT criteria: 164 (58.0%) patients received 50 or 50.4 Gy CRT, 27 patients (9.5%) received greater than 50.4 Gy, and 92 patients received less than 50 Gy (32.5%, only 8 patients received CRT to 41.4 Gy); 221 (78.1%) completed surgery (CRT/S+), while 62 (21.9%) failed to advance to surgery (CRT/S-): 25 of 62 CRT/S- patients (40.3%) evidenced metastatic progression before surgery, 4 (6.5%) were deemed unresectable intraoperatively, 4 (6.5%) expired prior to planned surgery (3 from unknown causes, 1 suicide), 8 (12.9%) experienced significant CRT-related medical decompensation and were withdrawn from surgical consideration, 16 (25.8%) voluntarily declined surgery post-CRT (largely due to long-term quality of life concerns), and 5 (8.1%) failed to advance for unknown reasons. Four of the 16 patients who voluntarily declined surgery after CRT received less than 50 Gy. The 22.2% of CRT/S+ patients achieved pathologic complete response (21.6% for adenocarcinoma and 29.0% for squamous cell carcinoma). Conclusions: Our institution's 78% surgery completion rate among TMT-indicated patients highlights the benefits of upfront multidisciplinary care. Metastatic disease development most commonly truncated TMT with a low rate failing due to medical decompensation. Given the number of patients who voluntarily declined surgery following CRT, TMT counseling and involvement of a patient advocate are paramount prior to treatment planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-390
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Esophageal cancer
  • Esophagectomy
  • Neoadjuvant chemoradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology


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