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Diagnostic performance of MRI for assessment of response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in oesophageal cancer. BJS 2019; 106: 596-605.

Published: 25th February 2019

Authors: S. E. Vollenbrock, F. E. M. Voncken, J. M. van Dieren, D. M. J. Lambregts, M. Maas, G. J. Meijer et al.

Background

Patients with a pathological complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) for oesophageal cancer may benefit from non‐surgical management. The aim of this study was to determine the diagnostic performance of visual response assessment of the primary tumour after nCRT on T2‐weighted (T2W) and diffusion‐weighted (DW) MRI.

Method

Patients with locally advanced oesophageal cancer who underwent T2W‐ and DW‐MRI (1·5 T) before and after nCRT in two hospitals, between July 2013 and September 2017, were included in this prospective study. Three radiologists evaluated T2W images retrospectively using a five‐point score for the assessment of residual tumour in a blinded manner and immediately rescored after adding DW‐MRI. Histopathology of the resection specimen was used as the reference standard; ypT0 represented a pCR. Sensitivity, specificity, area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC) and interobserver agreement were calculated.

Results

Twelve of 51 patients (24 per cent) had a pCR. The sensitivity and specificity of T2W‐MRI for detection of residual tumour ranged from 90 to 100 and 8 to 25 per cent respectively. Respective values for T2W + DW‐MRI were 90–97 and 42–50 per cent. AUCs for the three readers were 0·65, 0·66 and 0·68 on T2W‐MRI, and 0·71, 0·70 and 0·70 on T2W + DW‐MRI (P = 0·441, P = 0·611 and P = 0·828 for readers 1, 2 and 3 respectively). The κ value for interobserver agreement improved from 0·24–0·55 on T2W‐MRI to 0·55–0·71 with DW‐MRI.

Conclusion

Preoperative assessment of residual tumour on MRI after nCRT for oesophageal cancer is feasible with high sensitivity, reflecting a low chance of missing residual tumour. However, the specificity was low; this results in overstaging of complete responders as having residual tumour and, consequently, overtreatment.

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