Endoscopic treatment of T1a esophageal adenocarcinoma outperformed esophagectomy across a range of ages and comorbidity levels in a Markov model.

Esophagectomy produced 0.16 more unadjusted life-years, but led to 0.27 fewer quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), in the hypothetical case of a 75-year-old man with T1aN0M0 esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and a Charlson comorbidity index score of 0, reported Jacqueline N. Chu, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and her associates. “[We] believe QALYs are a more important endpoint because of the significant morbidity associated with esophagectomy,” they wrote in the March issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology .

In contrast, the model portrayed the management of T1b EAC as “an individualized decision” – esophagectomy was preferable in 60- to 70-year-old patients with T1b EAC, but serial endoscopic treatment was better when patients were older, with more comorbidities, the researchers said. “For the sickest patients, those aged 80 and older with comorbidity index of 2, endoscopic treatment not only provided more QALYs but more unadjusted life years as well.”

Treatment of T1a EAC is transitioning from esophagectomy to serial endoscopic resection, which physicians still tend to regard as too risky in T1b EAC. The Markov model evaluated the efficacy and cost efficacy of the two approaches in hypothetical T1a and T1b patients of various ages and comorbidities, using cancer death data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Medicare database and published cost data converted to 2017 U.S. dollars based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index.

Like the T1a case, the T1b base case consisted of a 75-year-old man with a Charlson comorbidity index of 0. Esophagectomy produced 0.72 more unadjusted life years than did endoscopic treatment (5.73 vs. 5.01) while yielding 0.22 more QALYs (4.07 vs. 3.85, respectively). Esophagectomy cost $156,981 more, but the model did not account for costs of chemotherapy and radiation or palliative care, all of which are more likely with endoscopic resection than esophagectomy, the researchers noted.

In sensitivity analyses, endoscopic treatment optimized quality of life in T1b EAC patients who were older than 80 years and had a comorbidity index of 1 or 2. Beyond that, treatment choice depended on posttreatment variables. “[If] a patient considered his or her quality of life postesophagectomy nearly equal to, or preferable to, [that] postendoscopic treatment, esophagectomy would be the optimal treatment strategy,” the investigators wrote. “An example would be the patient who would rather have an esophagectomy than worry about recurrence with endoscopic treatment.”

Pathologic analysis of T1a EACs can be inconsistent, and the model did not test whether high versus low pathologic risk affected treatment preference, the researchers said. They added data on T1NOS (T1 not otherwise specified) EACs to the model because the SEER-Medicare database included so few T1b endoscopic cases, but T1NOS patients had the worst outcomes and were in fact probably higher stage than T1. Fully 31% of endoscopy patients were T1NOS, compared with only 11% of esophagectomy patients, which would have biased the model against endoscopic treatment, according to the investigators.

The National Institutes of Health provided funding. Dr. Chu reported having no conflicts of interest. Three coinvestigators disclosed ties to CSA Medical, Ninepoint, C2 Therapeutics, Medtronic, and Trio Medicines. The remaining coinvestigators had no conflicts.

SOURCE: Chu JN et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Nov 24. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2017.10.024 .