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Derek J. Erstad, Mariela Blum, Jeannelyn S. Estrella, Prajnan Das, Bruce D. Minsky, Jaffer A. Ajani, Paul F. Mansfield, Naruhiko Ikoma, and Brian D. Badgwell

Background: The optimal number of examined lymph nodes (ELNs) and the positive lymph node ratio (LNR) for potentially curable gastric cancer are not established. We sought to determine clinical benchmarks for these values using a large national database. Methods: Demographic, clinicopathologic, and treatment-related data from patients treated using an R0, curative-intent gastrectomy registered in the National Cancer Database during 2004 to 2016 were evaluated. Patients with node-positive (pTxN+M0) disease were considered for analysis. Results: A total of 22,018 patients met the inclusion criteria, with a median follow-up of 2.2 years. Mean age at diagnosis was 65.6 years, 66% were male, 68% were White, 33% of tumors were located near the gastroesophageal junction, and 29% of patients had undergone preoperative therapy. Most primary tumors (62%) were category pT3–4, 67% had a poor or anaplastic grade, and 19% had signet features. Clinical nodal staging was inaccurate compared with staging at final pathology. The mean [SD] number of nodes examined was 19 [11]. On multivariable analysis, the pN category, ELNs, and LNR were independently associated with survival (all P<.0001). Using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, an optimal ELN threshold of ≥30 was established for patients with pN3b disease and was applied to the entire cohort. Node positivity and LNR had minimal change beyond 30 examined nodes. Stage-specific LNR thresholds calculated by ROC analysis were 11% for pN1, 28% for pN2, 58% for pN3a, 64% for pN3b, 30% for total combined. By using an ELN threshold of ≥30, prognostically advantageous stage-specific LNR values could be determined for 96% of evaluated patients. Conclusions: Using a large national cancer registry, we determined that an ELN threshold of ≥30 allowed for prognostically advantageous LNRs to be achieved in 96% of patients. Therefore, ≥30 examined nodes should be considered a clinical benchmark for practice in the United States.

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Caitlin A. Hester, Giampaolo Perri, Laura R. Prakash, Jessica E. Maxwell, Naruhiko Ikoma, Michael P. Kim, Ching-Wei D. Tzeng, Brandon Smaglo, Robert Wolff, Milind Javle, Michael J. Overman, Jeffrey E. Lee, and Matthew H.G. Katz

Background: This study aimed to determine the clinical relevance of putative radiographic and serologic metrics of chemotherapy response in patients with localized pancreatic cancer (LPC) who do not undergo pancreatectomy. Studies evaluating the response of LPC to systemic chemotherapy have focused on histopathologic analyses of resected specimens, but such specimens are not available for patients who do not undergo resection. We previously showed that changes in tumor volume and CA 19-9 levels provide a clinical readout of histopathologic response to preoperative therapy. Methods: Our institutional database was searched for patients with LPC who were treated with first-line chemotherapy between January 2010 and December 2017 and did not undergo pancreatectomy. Radiographic response was measured using RECIST 1.1 and tumor volume. The volume of the primary tumor was compared between pretreatment and posttreatment images. The percentage change in tumor volume (%Δvol) was calculated as a percentage of the pretreatment volume. Serologic response was measured by comparing pretreatment and posttreatment CA 19-9 levels. We established 3 response groups by combining these metrics: (1) best responders with a decline in %Δvol in the top quartile and in CA 19-9, (2) nonresponders with an increase in %Δvol and in CA 19-9, and (3) other patients. Results: This study included 329 patients. Individually, %Δvol and change in CA 19-9 were associated with overall survival (OS) (P≤.1), but RECIST 1.1 was not. In all, 73 patients (22%) were best responders, 42 (13%) were nonresponders, and there were 214 (65%) others. Best responders lived significantly longer than nonresponders and others (median OS, 24 vs 12 vs 17 months, respectively; P<.01). A multivariable model adjusting for type of chemotherapy regimen, number of chemotherapy doses, and receipt of radiotherapy showed that best responders had longer OS than did the other cohorts (hazard ratio [HR], 0.35; 95% CI, 0.21–0.58 for best responders, and HR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.37–0.83 for others). Conclusions: Changes in tumor volume and serum levels of CA 19-9—but not RECIST 1.1—represent reliable metrics of response to systemic chemotherapy. They can be used to counsel patients and families on survival expectations even if pancreatectomy is not performed.

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Derek J. Erstad, Mariela Blum, Jeannelyn S. Estrella, Prajnan Das, Bruce D. Minsky, Jaffer A. Ajani, Paul F. Mansfield, Naruhiko Ikoma, and Brian D. Badgwell

Background: The optimal number of examined lymph nodes (ELNs) and the positive lymph node ratio (LNR) for potentially curable gastric cancer are not established. We sought to determine clinical benchmarks for these values using a large national database. Methods: Demographic, clinicopathologic, and treatment-related data from patients treated using an R0, curative-intent gastrectomy registered in the National Cancer Database during 2004 to 2016 were evaluated. Patients with node-positive (pTxN+M0) disease were considered for analysis. Results: A total of 22,018 patients met the inclusion criteria, with a median follow-up of 2.2 years. Mean age at diagnosis was 65.6 years, 66% were male, 68% were White, 33% of tumors were located near the gastroesophageal junction, and 29% of patients had undergone preoperative therapy. Most primary tumors (62%) were category pT3–4, 67% had a poor or anaplastic grade, and 19% had signet features. Clinical nodal staging was inaccurate compared with staging at final pathology. The mean [SD] number of nodes examined was 19 [11]. On multivariable analysis, the pN category, ELNs, and LNR were independently associated with survival (all P<.0001). Using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, an optimal ELN threshold of ≥30 was established for patients with pN3b disease and was applied to the entire cohort. Node positivity and LNR had minimal change beyond 30 examined nodes. Stage-specific LNR thresholds calculated by ROC analysis were 11% for pN1, 28% for pN2, 58% for pN3a, 64% for pN3b, 30% for total combined. By using an ELN threshold of ≥30, prognostically advantageous stage-specific LNR values could be determined for 96% of evaluated patients. Conclusions: Using a large national cancer registry, we determined that an ELN threshold of ≥30 allowed for prognostically advantageous LNRs to be achieved in 96% of patients. Therefore, ≥30 examined nodes should be considered a clinical benchmark for practice in the United States.