Background: Cancer of the esophagus is one of the most commonly seen malignancies in China. From 1959 to 1981, mass screening of esophageal cancer disclosed that the age-adjusted incidence in the 40- to 69-year-old population in Lin County, Henan Province, was 470/10(5) In its northern part, an even higher incidence of 760/10(5)was found. As they were discovered by mass screening, most of them were found to have early lesions. Surgical treatment was done in attempt to find out the feasibility of managing esophageal carcinoma by early diagnosis and early treatment. This paper is the result of the long-term follow-up.
Methods: Since 1972, a total of 17 extensive mass screening has been conducted among more than 160,000 participants in the rural areas in Henan, Hebei, and northern Jiangsu provinces, sorting out more than 30,000 high-risk individuals. Among these individuals, 24,600 were examined by endoscopy, discovering 2,094 patients with carcinomas in the esophagus or gastric cardia; 757 of these 2,094 patients were found to have superficial esophageal cancer; 420 patients accepted surgical treatment. Esophagectomy with gastric replacement was performed through left thoracotomy in all patients. Cervical anastomosis 94 (22.4%), intrathoracic supraaortic anastomosis 307 (73.1%), and infra-aortic anastomosis 19 (4.5%) were done. Double thoracoabdominal lymphatic dissection was performed.
Results: The resection rate was 100%. One-month operative mortality occurred in 5 (1.2%). Postoperative complications developed and were satisfactorily treated in 28 patients (6.7%). Pathology of the cancer specimens showed that there were carcinoma in situ in 76 (all without lymphatic metastasis), intramucosal (TI) carcinoma in 126 (2 [1.6%] with lymphatic metastasis), and submucous infiltrating (TI) carcinoma in 218 (34 [15.6%] with lymphatic metastasis). All these 420 patients have been followed up to 2001 with a follow-up rate of 94.1%. Those who were lost to follow-up were taken as censored cases. The survival rates were calculated by the life-table method. The 5-, 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-year survival rates were 86.14%, 75.03%, 64.48%, 56.17%, and 49.93%, respectively.
Conclusions: Esophageal balloon cytology, endoscopy, mucosa 1.2% iodine stain, and multipoint biopsy may be the best approach for early diagnosis of esophageal carcinoma. Surgical resection of superficial esophageal cancer provides excellent long-term survival with acceptable quality of life. It was discovered that carcinoma in situ and intramucosal carcinoma gave far better results than the submucosal infiltrative carcinoma, as the latter tends to have a higher frequency of lymphatic metastasis.