Varying practices in tumor regression grading of gastrointestinal carcinomas after neoadjuvant therapy: results of an international survey

Westerhoff, Maria; Osecky, Marek; Langer, Rupert (2020). Varying practices in tumor regression grading of gastrointestinal carcinomas after neoadjuvant therapy: results of an international survey. Modern pathology, 33(4), pp. 676-689. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/s41379-019-0393-7

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Tumor regression grading is routinely performed on neoadjuvantly treated gastrointestinal cancer resections. Challenges in tumor regression grading include grossing standards, multiple grading systems, and difficulty interpreting therapy-induced changes. We surveyed gastrointestinal pathologists around the world for their practices in handling neoadjuvantly treated gastrointestinal cancer specimens and reporting tumor regression using a 23-question online survey. Topics addressed grossing, histologic work-up, tumor regression grading systems, and degree of difficulty identifying and estimating residual cancer within treatment effect. Two-hundred three responses were received, including 173 participants who completed the entire questionnaire. Fifty percent of the participants were from Europe, 29% from North America, 10% from Australia, and 11% from other continents. Ninety-five percent routinely report a tumor regression grade and 92% have standardized grossing and histologic work-up: 27% always completely embed the entire tumor bed, 54% embed the complete tumor site if not a grossly apparent, large mass. Fifty-nine percent use hematoxylin & eosin alone for assessment; the remaining use additional stains. In North America and Australia, the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC)/College of American Pathologists (CAP)/Ryan system is routinely used for gastroesophageal (71%) and rectal carcinomas (77%). In Europe, the Mandard system is common (36%) for gastroesophageal tumors, followed by AJCC/CAP/Ryan (22%), and Becker (10%); for rectal CA, the Dworak system (30%) is followed by AJCC/CAP/Ryan (24%) and Mandard (14%). This regional differences were significant (p < 0.001 each). Fifty-one percent prefer a four-tiered system. Sixty-six percent think that regressive changes in lymph nodes should be part of a regression grade. Sixty-nine percent consider identifying residual tumor straight-forward, but estimating therapy-induced fibrosis difficult (57%). Free comments raised issues of costs for work-up and clinical relevance. In conclusion, this multinational survey provides a comprehensive overview of grossing and histologic work-up with regards to tumor regression grading in gastrointestinal cancers with partly significant regional differences particularly between North America and Europe.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Pathology

UniBE Contributor:

Osecky, Marek Michal and Langer, Rupert


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Nature Publishing Group




Rupert Langer

Date Deposited:

12 Nov 2019 13:50

Last Modified:

04 Apr 2020 01:31

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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