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1.  NEOadjuvant therapy monitoring with PET and CT in Esophageal Cancer (NEOPEC-trial) 
Background
Surgical resection is the preferred treatment of potentially curable esophageal cancer. To improve long term patient outcome, many institutes apply neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy. In a large proportion of patients no response to chemoradiotherapy is achieved. These patients suffer from toxic and ineffective neoadjuvant treatment, while appropriate surgical therapy is delayed. For this reason a diagnostic test that allows for accurate prediction of tumor response early during chemoradiotherapy is of crucial importance. CT-scan and endoscopic ultrasound have limited accuracy in predicting histopathologic tumor response. Data suggest that metabolic changes in tumor tissue as measured by FDG-PET predict response better. This study aims to compare FDG-PET and CT-scan for the early prediction of non-response to preoperative chemoradiotherapy in patients with potentially curable esophageal cancer.
Methods/design
Prognostic accuracy study, embedded in a randomized multicenter Dutch trial comparing neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for 5 weeks followed by surgery versus surgery alone for esophageal cancer. This prognostic accuracy study is performed only in the neoadjuvant arm of the randomized trial. In 6 centers, 150 consecutive patients will be included over a 3 year period. FDG-PET and CT-scan will be performed before and 2 weeks after the start of the chemoradiotherapy. All patients complete the 5 weeks regimen of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, regardless the test results. Pathological examination of the surgical resection specimen will be used as reference standard. Responders are defined as patients with < 10% viable residual tumor cells (Mandard-score).
Difference in accuracy (area under ROC curve) and negative predictive value between FDG-PET and CT-scan are primary endpoints. Furthermore, an economic evaluation will be performed, comparing survival and costs associated with the use of FDG-PET (or CT-scan) to predict tumor response with survival and costs of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy without prediction of response (reference strategy).
Discussion
The NEOPEC-trial could be the first sufficiently powered study that helps justify implementation of FDG-PET for response-monitoring in patients with esophageal cancer in clinical practice.
Trial registration
ISRCTN45750457
doi:10.1186/1756-6649-8-3
PMCID: PMC3301128  PMID: 18671847
2.  Patients’ perception of diagnostic tests in the preoperative assessment of esophageal cancer 
Objective
Defining an optimal staging strategy requires an evaluation of the effectiveness and costs of diagnostic tests and may include the burden of these tests for patients. This study evaluated the burden of cervical ultrasonography (US), endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS), computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) in patients with esophageal carcinoma (EC).
Methods
Consenting consecutive patients underwent a standard preoperative work-up. Burden of testing was evaluated with a self-report questionnaire addressing anxiety, embarrassment, and discomfort, each measured on a 1(none) to 5 (extreme) point-scale. An overall burden score was calculated by summing the three item scores. In addition, patients were asked to rank the four tests from least to most inconvenient. Statistical analysis was performed with nonparametric tests.
Results
82 patients (67 , 15 ; mean age 64.3 yrs) participated. For most tests and most dimensions of burden, the large majority of subjects was in categories 1 and 2.With respect to anxiety, the rank order (from highest burden to lowest burden) was EUS, US, PET, and CT (average scores 1.7, 1.5, 1.4, and 1.2, respectively). For embarrassment, the rank order was EUS, PET, US, and CT (1.9, 1.5, 1.4, and 1.3 respectively). For discomfort, the rank order was EUS, PET, US and CT (2.0, 1.6, 1.4, and 1.2, respectively). And for total burden, the rank order was EUS, PET, US and CT (5.6, 4.6, 4.2, and 3.7). PET was ranked as least inconvenient by 35% of patients and as most inconvenient by 16% compared with the other tests.
Conclusion
Significant but small differences were observed in patient burden for imaging tests to evaluate EC. The perceived burden of PET was lower than that of EUS, but higher than the burden of CT. However absolute values were low for all tests and therefore patient burden will not be a key feature for the construction of an optimal staging algorithm for EC.
PMCID: PMC2770407  PMID: 19920957
esophageal carcinoma; perceived burden; cervical ultrasonography; endoscopic ultrasonograhy; computed tomography; positron emission tomography

Results 1-2 (2)