JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Nov 1;5(11):e2239778. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.39778.
IMPORTANCE: A considerable number of clinical trials of neoadjuvant immunotherapy for patients with resectable esophageal cancer are emerging. However, systematic evaluations of these studies are lacking.
OBJECTIVE: To provide state-of-the-art evidence and normative theoretical support for neoadjuvant immunotherapy for locally advanced resectable esophageal cancer.
DATA SOURCES: PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and ClinicalTrials.gov databases were searched for relevant original articles and conference proceedings that were published in English through April 1, 2022.
STUDY SELECTION: Published phase 2 or 3 clinical trials that included patients with resectable stage I to IV esophageal cancer who received immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) before surgery as monotherapy or in combination with other therapies.
DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses and the Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines for meta-analysis were followed to extract data. A random-effects model was adopted if the heterogeneity was significant (I2 statistic >50%); otherwise, the common-effects model was used. Data analyses were conducted from April 2 to 8, 2022.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Pathological complete response (pCR) rate and major pathological response (MPR) rate were considered to be the primary outcomes calculated for the clinical outcomes of neoadjuvant immunotherapy. Incidence of treatment-related severe adverse events was set as the major measure for the safety outcome. The rate of R0 surgical resection was summarized. Subgroup analyses were conducted according to histologic subtype and ICI types.
RESULTS: A total of 27 clinical trials with 815 patients were included. Pooled rates were 31.4% (95% CI, 27.6%-35.3%) for pCR and 48.9% (95% CI, 42.0-55.9%) for MCR in patients with esophageal cancer. In terms of safety, the pooled incidence of treatment-related severe adverse events was 26.9% (95% CI, 16.7%-38.3%). Most patients achieved R0 surgical resection (98.6%; 95% CI, 97.1%-99.6%). Regarding histologic subtypes, the pooled pCR rates were 32.4% (95% CI, 28.2%-36.8%) in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 25.2% (95% CI, 16.3%-35.1%) in esophageal adenocarcinoma. The pooled MPR rate was 49.4% (95% CI, 42.1%-56.7%) in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This study found that neoadjuvant immunotherapy with chemotherapy had promising clinical and safety outcomes for patients with resectable esophageal cancer. Randomized clinical trials with long-term follow-up are warranted to validate the findings and benefits of ICIs.