A phase II trial of preoperative chemotherapy with epirubicin, cisplatin and capecitabine for patients with localised gastro-oesophageal junctional adenocarcinoma

N Starling, A Okines, D Cunningham, W Allum, A Wotherspoon, M Benson, J Thompson, J Thomas, G Brown, A Riddell, F Stavridi, S Ashley, J Oates, I Chau
British Journal of Cancer 2009 June 2, 100 (11): 1725-30
Preoperative cisplatin/fluorouracil is used for the treatment of localised oesophageal carcinoma. This phase II study aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of administering preoperative epirubicin/cisplatin/capecitabine (ECX). Patients with stage II or III oesophageal/gastro-oesophageal junctional adenocarcinoma from one institution received 4 cycles of ECX (epirubicin 50 mg m(-2) day 1, cisplatin 60 mg m(-2) day 1, capecitabine 625 mg m(-2) b.i.d. daily) followed by surgery. The primary end point was the pathological complete response (pCR) rate based on a Simon two-stage design. Secondary end points included overall and progression-free survival (OS/PFS). Thirty-four patients were recruited: median age 60 years (range 41-81), 91% male, 97% PS 0/1, 80% T3, 68% N1. Thirty-one patients completed four ECX cycles. Grade 3/4 toxicities >or=5% included neutropenia (62%), hand-foot syndrome (15%) and nausea/vomiting (9%). Thirteen out of 28 (46%) evaluable patients responded to chemotherapy by EUS (>or=30% reduction in maximal tumour thickness). Twenty-six out of 34 (76%) patients underwent resection (R0=73%, R1=27%). Post-operatively, two patients died within 60 days of surgery. The pCR rate was 5.9% (95% CI 0-14%) in the intent-to-treat population. According to the statistical design, this prompted early study termination. However, with a median follow-up of 34 months the median OS and 1- and 2-year survival rates were 17 months, 67 and 39% respectively. Median PFS was 13 months. Of the 14 relapsed patients, 10 presented with distant metastases. Preoperative ECX is feasible and well tolerated. Although associated with a low pCR rate, survival with ECX was comparable with published studies suggesting that pCR may not correlate with satisfactory outcome from preoperative chemotherapy for localised oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

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