Published online Nov 30, 2009. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v1.i1.30
Revised: November 3, 2009
Accepted: November 10, 2009
Published online: November 30, 2009
Since the introduction of multimodal therapy regimens, the prognosis of esophageal cancer has improved. There is undoubtedly true for patients with surgically resected tumors in the case of a response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy or chemoradiation. Important conclusions can be drawn from this regarding the indication for perioperative therapies, the radicality of surgery, or the surgical indications. Thus, most of the current research in this field is aimed at the early identification of this subset of patients, at the beginning of, or even before, neoadjuvant treatment. Conventional staging tools have failed to predict responses to neoadjuvant therapy. However, molecular imaging methods, e.g. positron emission tomography (PET)-scans, have shown promising results in the early selection of responders and non-responders during the course of neoadjuvant therapy, allowing physicians to alter the treatment plan accordingly. Even more desirable is the identification of potential responders before the start of neoadjuvant therapy. Preliminary molecular data on biopsy specimens demonstrate the possibility of early response prediction in these patients. We present the current knowledge on response evaluation and prediction in esophageal cancer and draw conclusions for future clinical practice and studies in this review.