The effectiveness of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in oesophageal adenocarcinoma with presence of extracellular mucin, signet-ring cells, and/or poorly cohesive cells

Maria J Valkema*, Anne-Marie Vos, Rachel S van der Post, Ariadne Hag Ooms, Lindsey Oudijk, Ben M Eyck, Sjoerd M Lagarde, Bas Pl Wijnhoven, Bastiaan R Klarenbeek, Camiel Rosman, J Jan B van Lanschot, Michail Doukas

*Corresponding author for this work

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Oesophageal adenocarcinomas may show different histopathological patterns, including excessive acellular mucin pools, signet-ring cells (SRCs), and poorly cohesive cells (PCCs). These components have been suggested to correlate with poor outcomes after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT), which might influence patient management. However, these factors have not been studied independently of each other with adjustment for tumour differentiation grade (i.e. the presence of well-formed glands), which is a possible confounder. We studied the pre- and post-treatment presence of extracellular mucin, SRCs, and/or PCCs in relation to pathological response and prognosis after nCRT in patients with oesophageal or oesophagogastric junction adenocarcinoma. A total of 325 patients were retrospectively identified from institutional databases of two university hospitals. All patients were scheduled for ChemoRadiotherapy for Oesophageal cancer followed by Surgery Study (CROSS) nCRT and oesophagectomy between 2001 and 2019. Percentages of well-formed glands, extracellular mucin, SRCs, and PCCs were scored in pre-treatment biopsies and post-treatment resection specimens. The association between histopathological factors (≥1 and >10%) and tumour regression grade 3-4 (i.e. >10% residual tumour), overall survival, and disease-free survival (DFS) was evaluated, adjusted for tumour differentiation grade amongst other clinicopathological variables. In pre-treatment biopsies, ≥1% extracellular mucin was present in 66 of 325 patients (20%); ≥1% SRCs in 43 of 325 (13%), and ≥1% PCCs in 126 of 325 (39%). We show that pre-treatment histopathological factors were unrelated to tumour regression grade. Pre-treatment presence of >10% PCCs was associated with lower DFS (hazard ratio [HR] 1.73, 95% CI 1.19-2.53). Patients with post-treatment presence of ≥1% SRCs had higher risk of death (HR 1.81, 95% CI 1.10-2.99). In conclusion, pre-treatment presence of extracellular mucin, SRCs, and/or PCCs is unrelated to pathological response. The presence of these factors should not be an argument to refrain from CROSS. At least 10% PCCs pre-treatment and any SRCs post-treatment, irrespective of the tumour differentiation grade, seem indicative of inferior prognosis, but require further validation in larger cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-335
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pathology: Clinical Research
Issue number4
Early online date27 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology: Clinical Research published by The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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