Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 878–886 | Cite as

Response to Preoperative Therapy in Upper Gastrointestinal Cancers

  • Björn L. D. M. Brücher
  • Stephen G. Swisher
  • Alfred Königsrainer
  • Derek Zieker
  • Jörg Hartmann
  • Hubert Stein
  • Yuko Kitagawa
  • Simon Law
  • Jaffer A. Ajani
Gastrointestinal Oncology



In cancer, a response to therapy implies a reduction in the volume or activity of localized and/or metastatic tumors. In localized upper gastrointestinal cancer, there is no accepted definition of clinical response; however, tumor shrinkage is frequently observed when preoperative therapy is administered. As patients with upper gastrointestinal cancers often undergo multimodal therapy, it is therefore imperative that new definitions for assessing the response to preoperative therapy be established.


We reviewed the development of response criteria from a historical perspective, with particular emphasis on the criteria used to assess upper gastrointestinal cancers.


Observing the response to preoperative therapy appears to make it possible to distinguish between favorable and unfavorable clinical biology in the cancer. Patients who experience a response to preoperative treatment appear to fare better in terms of overall survival than those whose cancers do not respond. We reviewed the published results regarding the response to preoperative therapy and the implications of this for patients.


This review of the literature suggests that a variety of tools are available for defining the response to preoperative therapy and that these need to be exploited. Developing reliable methods of assessing the response will improve the individualization of therapy for patients with gastroesophageal cancer. There is a strong need for surrogate markers for efficacy in order to assess responses that are capable of predicting patient outcome.


Positron Emission Tomography Esophageal Cancer Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are very grateful for the critical advice on this paper provided by Prof. Murray Brennan of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, NY, USA. This manuscript is dedicated to U. Fink, emeritus professor of oncology, who had a major impact on response assessment in oncology during the last 20 years and J. R. Siewert, emeritus professor of surgery, who had a major impact on response assessment as well as on esophageal surgery generally within the last 25 years.


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Björn L. D. M. Brücher
    • 1
  • Stephen G. Swisher
    • 2
  • Alfred Königsrainer
    • 1
  • Derek Zieker
    • 1
  • Jörg Hartmann
    • 3
  • Hubert Stein
    • 4
  • Yuko Kitagawa
    • 5
  • Simon Law
    • 6
  • Jaffer A. Ajani
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular SurgeryUniversity of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Oncology, Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of SurgeryUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  5. 5.Department of SurgeryKeio University Medical SchoolTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Department of SurgeryQueen Mary Hospital/University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  7. 7.Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology and Digestive DiseaseUniversity of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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