Tumor length as a prognostic factor in esophageal malignancy: univariate and multivariate survival analyses

J Surg Oncol. 2006 Mar 15;93(4):258-67. doi: 10.1002/jso.20449.


Background and objectives: Gastrointestinal specialists generally feel that long esophageal tumors carry a worse prognosis and are likely to be more advanced than shorter lesions. Our aim was to investigate the relationship between histologically determined tumor length and aspects of tumor pathology and survival for patients with resected esophageal malignancy.

Methods: Three hundred and nine patients who underwent esophageal resection with curative intent in our unit between 1994 and 2003 were retrospectively analyzed. Pathological details such as TNM stage, differentiation, completeness of surgical resection, and overall stage were collected. Survival data were obtained for each patient and univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. Overall survival was used as the primary endpoint.

Results: There were 225 adenocarcinomas, 72 squamous cell carcinomas, and 12 other tumor types with a median tumor length of 3.5 cm (range 0.5-14 cm). Tumor length greater than 3.5 cm was associated with increasing T stage (P = 0.0001), N stage (P = 0.032), overall stage (P = 0.003), and involvement of the longitudinal resection margins (P = 0.02). Univariate analysis found tumor length greater than 3.5 cm was associated with worse overall survival compared with shorter tumors (P = 0.0002). Tumor length remained a significant prognostic factor on multivariate analysis (P = 0.04). Other prognostic factors on multivariate analysis were age, tumor differentiation, nodal involvement, and resection margin status.

Conclusion: Tumor length greater than 3.5 cm (as determined histologically) is associated with worse disease stage and poor overall patient survival. If preoperative endoscopic tumor length bears a similar relationship, this could assist in patient selection for appropriate treatments.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Endpoint Determination
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Esophagectomy* / mortality
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis