1. Department of Radiation Oncology, Zhejiang Cancer Hospital, No. 38 Guangji Rd., Hangzhou, Zhejiang, 310022, China
2. Department of Thoracic Surgery, Zhejiang Cancer Hospital, No. 38 Guangji Rd., Hangzhou, Zhejiang, 310022, China
*Chang-Juan Tao and Gang Lin contributed equally to this manuscript.
Currently, the most promising strategy to improve the prognosis of advanced esophageal cancer is neoadjuvant chemoradiation (CRT) followed by surgery. However, patients who achieved pathological complete response can experience more survival benefit. Therefore, it is critical to identify the responders early in the course of treatment. Published data demonstrate that clinic-histopathological factors, molecular biomarkers, and functional imaging are predictive of neoadjuvant therapy. The existing biomarkers, including epidermal growth factor receptors, angiogenetic factors, transcription factors, tumor suppressor genes, cell cycle regulators, nucleotide excision repair pathway, cytokines, and chemotherapy associated genes, need to be validated and novel biomarkers warrant further exploration. Positron emission tomography (PET) is useful for differentiating the responders of neoadjuvant CRT. The most valuable parameters and the time point of performing PET in the course of treatment remains to be elucidated. Furthermore, predictive models incorporating the multiple categories of factors need to be established with a large, prospective, and homogeneous patient cohort in the future. Standardization of staging, biomarker detection method, and image acquisition protocol will be critical for the generalization of this model. Prospective, multi-center controlled trials, which stratified patients according to these predictive factors, will help guide individualized treatment strategies for patients with esophageal cancer.
Keywords: esophageal cancer, neoadjuvant therapy, response, positron emission tomography, biomarkers