Lymphocyte Nadir and Esophageal Cancer Survival Outcomes After Chemoradiation Therapy.

Davuluri R, Jiang W, Fang P, Xu C, Komaki R, Gomez DR, Welsh J, Cox JD, Crane CH, Hsu CC, et al. 2017. Lymphocyte Nadir and Esophageal Cancer Survival Outcomes After Chemoradiation Therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 99:128–135. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.05.037.

PURPOSE: Host immunity may affect the outcome in patients with esophageal cancer. We sought to identify factors that influenced absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) nadir during chemoradiation therapy (CRT) for esophageal cancer (EC) and looked for clinically relevant associations with survival.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: 504 patients with stage I-III EC (2007-2013) treated with neoadjuvant or definitive CRT with weekly ALC determinations made during treatment were analyzed. Grade of lymphopenia from ALC nadir during CRT was based on Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4.0. Associations of ALC nadir with survival were examined using multivariate Cox proportional hazards analysis (MVA) and competing risks regression analysis.

RESULTS: The median follow-up time was 36 months. The incidences of grade 1, 2, 3, and 4 ALC nadir during CRT were 2%, 12%, 59%, and 27%, respectively. The impact was lymphocyte-specific because this was not seen for monocyte or neutrophil count. On MVA, grade 4 ALC nadir (G4 nadir) was significantly associated with worse overall and disease-specific survival outcomes. Predictors of G4 nadir included distal tumor location, definitive CRT, taxane/5-fluorouracil chemotherapy, and photon-based radiation type (vs proton-based). Radiation type strongly influenced the mean body dose exposure, which was a strong predictor for G4 nadir (odds ratio 1.22 per Gray, P<.001).

CONCLUSIONS: G4 nadir during CRT for EC was associated with poor outcomes, suggesting a role of host immunity in disease control. This observation provides a rationale to prospectively test chemotherapeutic and radiation treatment strategies that may have a lower impact on host immunity.