Lymph node response to chemoradiotherapy in oesophageal cancer patients: relationship with radiotherapy fields

Willem J. Koemans, Ruben T. H. M. Larue, Maximilian Kloft, Jessica E. Ruisch, Inge Compter, Robert G. Riedl, Lara R. Heij, Wouter van Elmpt, Maaike Berbee, Jeroen Buijsen, Philippe Lambin, Meindert N. Sosef, Heike I. Grabsch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background The presence of lymph node metastasis (LNmets) is a poor prognostic factor in oesophageal cancer (OeC) patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) followed by surgery. Tumour regression grade (TRG) in LNmets has been suggested as a predictor for survival. The aim of this study was to investigate whether TRG in LNmets is related to their location within the radiotherapy (RT) field. Methods Histopathological TRG was retrospectively classified in 2565 lymph nodes (LNs) from 117 OeC patients treated with nCRT and surgery as: (A) no tumour, no signs of regression; (B) tumour without regression; (C) viable tumour and regression; and (D) complete response. Multivariate survival analysis was used to investigate the relationship between LN location within the RT field, pathological TRG of the LN and TRG of the primary tumour. Results In 63 (54%) patients, viable tumour cells or signs of regression were seen in 264 (10.2%) LNs which were classified as TRG-B (n = 56), C (n = 104) or D (n = 104) LNs. 73% of B, C and D LNs were located within the RT field. There was a trend towards a relationship between LN response and anatomical LN location with respect to the RT field (p = 0.052). Multivariate analysis showed that only the presence of LNmets within the RT field with TRG-B is related to poor overall survival. Conclusion Patients have the best survival if all LNmets show tumour regression, even if LNmets are located outside the RT field. Response in LNmets to nCRT is heterogeneous which warrants further studies to better understand underlying mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-110
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Early online date5 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy
  • Lymph node regression
  • Radiation field

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