Emerging aspects of oesophageal and gastro-oesophageal junction cancer histopathology - an update for the surgical oncologist

World J Surg Oncol. 2006 Nov 21;4:82. doi: 10.1186/1477-7819-4-82.


Adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus and gastro-oesophageal junction are rapidly increasing in incidence and have a well described sequence of carcinogenesis: the Barrett's metaplasia-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma sequence. During recent years there have been changes in the knowledge surrounding disease progression, cancer management and histopathology specimen reporting. Tumours around the gastro-oesophageal junction (GOJ) pose several specific challenges. Numerous difficulties arise when the existing TNM staging systems for gastric and oesophageal cancers are applied to GOJ tumours. The issues facing the current TNM staging and GOJ tumour classification systems are reviewed in this article. Recent evidence regarding the importance of several histopathologically derived prognostic factors, such as circumferential resection margin status and lymph node metastases, have implications for specimen reporting. With the rising use of multimodal treatments for oesophageal cancer it is important that the response of the tumour to this therapy is carefully documented pathologically. In addition, several controversial and novel areas such as endoscopic mucosal resection, lymph node micrometastases and the sentinel node concept are being studied. We aim to review these aspects, with special relevance to oesophageal and gastro-oesophageal cancer specimen reporting, to update the surgical oncologist with an interest in upper gastrointestinal cancer.