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  • Author: Michelle Bunch x
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Ashley E. Glode, S. Lindsey Davis, Supriya K. Jain, Megan D. Marsh, Lisa J. Wingrove, Tracey E. Schefter, Karyn Goodman, Lindel C.K. Dewberry, Martin D. McCarter, Laura Melton, Michelle Bunch, William T. Purcell and Stephen Leong

Background: At our institution, the standard treatment recommendation for esophageal cancer patients with stage IB–IIIB disease is for neoadjuvant chemoradiation per the CROSS regimen prior to surgery. This regimen can be difficult for patients to tolerate, and they may be unable to receive full dose therapy without treatment dose reductions and delays. Methods: We conducted a quality improvement (QI) project, STRENGTH (Seeking to Reactivate Esophageal and Gastric Treatment Health), to implement supportive care interventions in the prehabilitation phase of neoadjuvant treatment. Our QI program included a standardized chemotherapy order template with supportive care interventions implemented at specific time points. Following implementation of the STRENGTH pathway, a retrospective QI analysis assessed an equal number of patients in the pre-STRENGTH and STRENGTH group for chemotherapy and radiation therapy dose intensities, as well as treatment outcomes. Results: During the pre-STRENGTH period, patients received an average of 5 chemotherapy treatments (range, 2–6), with an average relative dose intensity of 91.8% for carboplatin and 86.7% for paclitaxel. During the STRENGTH period, patients received an average of 6 (range, 5–8) chemotherapy treatments, with an average relative dose intensity of 111.4% for carboplatin and 112.9% for paclitaxel. In the pre-STRENGTH group, one patient did not complete their planned radiation dose due to nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. All patients in the STRENGTH group received their planned radiation dose. In the STRENGTH group, there is a trend of improved pathologic response, longer progression-free survival, and shortened time to surgery. Conclusion: Implementation of the STRENGTH pathway improved chemotherapy dose intensity, with potentially improved oncologic outcomes in the STRENGTH group. We plan to further optimize the STRENGTH program with implementation of standardized dose reduction and delay protocols for both chemotherapy and radiation, and assess the effects of STRENGTH interventions on patient quality of life.