Previous American Joint Committee on Cancer/International Union Against Cancer (AJCC/UICC) stage groupings for esophageal cancer have not been data driven or harmonized with stomach cancer. At the request of the AJCC, worldwide data from 3 continents were assembled to develop data-driven, harmonized esophageal staging for the seventh edition of the AJCC/UICC cancer staging manuals.
All-cause mortality among 4627 patients with esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancer who underwent surgery alone (no preoperative or postoperative adjuvant therapy) was analyzed by using novel random forest methodology to produce stage groups for which survival was monotonically decreasing, distinctive, and homogeneous.
For lymph node-negative pN0M0 cancers, risk-adjusted 5-year survival was dominated by pathologic tumor classification (pT) but was modulated by histopathologic cell type, histologic grade, and location. For lymph node-positive, pN+M0 cancers, the number of cancer-positive lymph nodes (a new pN classification) dominated survival. Resulting stage groupings departed from a simple, logical arrangement of TNM. Stage groupings for stage I and II adenocarcinoma were based on pT, pN, and histologic grade; and groupings for squamous cell carcinoma were based on pT, pN, histologic grade, and location. Stage III was similar for histopathologic cell types and was based only on pT and pN. Stage 0 and stage IV, by definition, were categorized as tumor in situ (Tis) (high-grade dysplasia) and pM1, respectively.
The prognosis for patients with esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancer depends on the complex interplay of TNM classifications as well as nonanatomic factors, including histopathologic cell type, histologic grade, and cancer location. These features were incorporated into a data-driven staging of these cancers for the seventh edition of the AJCC/UICC cancer staging manuals. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.