Prognostic significance of cancer within 1 mm of the circumferential resection margin in oesophageal cancer patients following neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.
ABSTRACT OBJECTIVES: The prognostic significance of the circumferential resection margin (CRM) status in oesophageal cancer patients treated with neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and radical resection is controversial. Furthermore, it is currently unclear whether patients with cancer located at the CRM have a prognosis different from that of those with cancer within 1 mm of the CRM. This is the first study aiming to establish the optimal tumour-free distance from the CRM of an oesophagectomy in patients who have undergone neo-adjuvant chemotherapy. METHODS: The clinicopathological data of 232 oesophageal cancer patients from two UK centres were analysed. The CRM status was classified as Group A (cancer at the CRM), Group B (cancer within 1 mm but not at the CRM) and Group C (no cancer within 1 mm from the CRM). The relationship between the CRM status and patient survival was investigated. RESULTS: Thirty-eight specimens were classified as Group A, 89 as Group B and 105 as Group C. CRM status was related to the depth of tumour invasion (P < 0.001) and lymph node status (P < 0.001). The prognoses of the Group A and the Group B patients were similar. Both were poorer than that of the Group C patients (P = 0.008). Lymph node status was the only independent prognostic marker in multivariate analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Oesophageal cancer patients treated with pre-operative chemotherapy with cancer cells at the CRM or within 1 mm of the CRM of the resected specimen have a significantly worse survival than patients with no cancer cells within 1 mm of the margin. However, this study suggests that the overall prognostic significance of the CRM status is limited in this cohort and the post-operative lymph node status is the most important prognostic factor in oesophageal cancer patients treated with neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and surgery.