Background: Although early diagnosis of esophageal carcinoma is an important determinant of outcome, early stage carcinomas are rarely detected on routine endoscopic examination. Iodine staining may be useful in the detection of early stage esophageal carcinoma, especially in high-risk populations. In a prior study, 29.2% (68/233) patients with superficial esophageal carcinoma (SEC) undergoing resection at our hospital had other nonesophageal primary carcinomas, suggesting that patients with nonesophageal primary cancers are at increased risk for the development of esophageal cancer. The aim of the current study was to determine whether endoscopic screening with iodine staining is useful for the detection of SEC in patients with a history of non-esophageal cancers.
Patients and methods: In a prospective study, 331 patients with nonesophageal primary cancers were screened for esophageal cancer by endoscopic examination with iodine staining. All patients were men 55 years of age or older.
Results: Nine patients (2.7%) with SEC were identified. Among these patients, 7 with mucosal cancer were treated by endoscopic mucosal resection, and 2 with submucosal cancer were treated by surgical resection or radiation therapy. Five patients (1.5%) were found to have cancer confined to the epithelium or the lamina propria. These lesions were difficult to detect by conventional endoscopic screening and were cured by endoscopic mucosal resection. After exclusion of 51 patients with head and neck cancer, the incidence of SEC was still 2.1% (6/280), higher than reported in prior screening studies.
Conclusions: All men with a history of nonesophageal primary cancers should undergo endoscopic screening for esophageal cancer. Endoscopic iodine staining in such patients may be useful in screening for early stage esophageal carcinoma.