Endoscopic palliation of oesophageal cancer: results of a prospective comparison of Nd:YAG laser and ethanol injection

Eur J Surg. 1999 Apr;165(4):351-6. doi: 10.1080/110241599750006893.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of intratumoral alcohol injection compared with Nd:YAG laser in the treatment of unresectable fungating cancers of the oesophagus.

Design: Prospective, randomised clinical study.

Setting: University hospital, Italy.

Subjects and interventions: 47 consecutive patients were randomly allocated to have endoscopic Nd:YAG laser treatment (n = 24), or intratumoural injection of 98% alcohol (n = 23).

Main outcome measures: Morbidity, mortality, dysphagia score, survival.

Results: One patient in the laser group needed analgesic support during and after the treatment, whereas 18 (78%) of those treated with alcohol experienced mild pain and most of them required analgesics. An improvement of at least 2 points in the dysphagia score was noted in 21 patients (88%) in the laser group and in 18 in the alcohol group (78%). The mean dysphagia-free intervals between each treatment were 30 and 37 days, respectively. The median survival was 6 months in each group. There were no significant differences in the mean dysphagia scores of patients still alive. There were no complications in the laser group, but one oesophageal perforation occurred during the preliminary dilatation before the second session of alcohol injection. There were no procedure-related deaths.

Conclusion: The two techniques allowed similar palliation of dysphagia and improvement of quality of life. Intratumoral injection of alcohol is an effective and inexpensive therapeutic option in the palliation of fungating oesophageal lesions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Esophagoscopy*
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors


  • Ethanol