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Levels of expression of a specific gene (ERCC1 gene) are strongly associated with survival outcomes among patients with operable esophageal cancer undergoing platinum-based chemotherapy.  Results such as these may help guide personalized treatment options among this group of patients. These results were presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The esophagus is a hollow tube through which food and drink passes from the throat to the stomach.  Among patients with operable esophageal cancer, survival is improved with the use of platinum chemotherapy agents prior to surgery compared to surgery alone (SWOG S0356 trial).  However, differences in outcomes among this group of patients vary widely. Therefore, researchers are evaluating ways in which to personalize treatment based on differences in genetics or other characteristics of the cancer.

Researchers associated with the SWOG S0356 trial explored the association of patient survival and expression of the excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1) gene within a patient’s cancer.  The researchers examined ERCC1 levels from 92 patients with operable esophageal cancer who underwent treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy followed by surgery.

  • Levels of ERCC1 expression were strongly associated with survival in these patients.
  • Overall survival at 2 years was 72% for patients with low levels of ERCC1 expression, compared with 37% for patients with high levels of ERCC1 expression.
  • Survival with no cancer progression at 2 years occurred in 67% of the group with low levels of ERCC1 expression, compared with only 17% in the group with high levels of ERCC1 expression.

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These results indicate that ERCC1 expression levels may help identify patients with operable esophageal cancer who derive the greatest benefit from platinum-based chemotherapy prior to surgery.  Results such as these may help guide personalized treatment decisions for optimal outcomes among patients with cancer.

Reference: Bohanes P, Goldman B, Leichman L, et al. Association of excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1) gene expression (GE) with outcome in stage II-III esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) patients treated with preoperative platinum-based chemoradiation (CRT) in a phase II cooperative group study (SWOG S0356). Paper presented at the 2011 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Chicago, Il. Abstract 4023.