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Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2000;12(3):182-7.

Preoperative ECF chemotherapy in gastro-oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

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  • 1Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, UK.


Epirubicin, cisplatin and continuous 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) infusion (ECF) has been reported to result in high clinical response rates in advanced gastro-oesophageal adenocarcinoma and is currently the 'gold standard' chemotherapy regimen for this tumour site. Despite this, its role as preoperative (neoadjuvant) treatment is unproven and therefore remains under investigation. We report our experience using ECF (intravenous epirubicin 50 mg/m2 and cisplatin 60 mg/m2 every 3 weeks, with continuous infusion of 5-FU 200 mg/m2 per day) as preoperative treatment in locally advanced adenocarcinoma of the lower oesophagus, gastro-oesophageal junction and stomach. Of the 23 patients treated (median age 54 years), 19 had potentially resectable disease, four were unresectable and seven had radiological evidence of lymph node involvement. A median of four cycles of ECF was delivered (range 1-6). Ten of 12 patients (83%) with dysphagia reported improvement of symptoms. Clinical disease progression occurred in six patients (26%) during chemotherapy. WHO grade 3 or 4 toxicity occurred in six patients (26%): four haematological, one mucositis, one vomiting. Seventeen patients (74%) proceeded to surgery; 14 (61%) were resected and three were unresectable. There were two (12%) postoperative deaths from respiratory failure. Major pathological response was seen in three patients (13%): one pathological complete response, two microscopic residual disease. Two patients had Stage II (T2N(0-1)) disease and nine were Stage III (T(3-4)N(0-1)). None of the patients with initially unresectable disease was rendered resectable. After a median follow-up interval of 33 months (range 26-53), the overall median survival was 12 months and 2-year survival was 30%. All patients who were initially unresectable or had radiological evidence of lymph node involvement have died. Therefore, despite good symptomatic response rates, ECF chemotherapy given in the preoperative setting did not appear to improve the outcome of patients with unresectable or radiologically lymph node-positive gastro-oesophageal adenocarcinoma. The role of ECF chemotherapy in resectable tumours is unclear and is currently under investigation in the randomized MRC Adjuvant Gastric Infusional Chemotherapy (MAGIC) study.

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