Background: The border between the esophagus and stomach gives rise to many discrepancies in the current literature regarding the etiology, classification and surgical treatment of adenocarcinoma arising at the esophago-gastric junction. We have consequently used the AEG-criteria (adenocarcinoma of the esophago-gastric junction) for classification and have based the selection of the surgical approach on the anatomic topographic subclassification.
Methods: In the following we report an analysis of a large and homogeneously classified population of 1602 consecutive patients with adenocarcinoma of the esophago-gastric junction, with an emphasis on the surgical approach, the pattern of lymphatic spread, the outcome after surgical treatment and the prognostic factors. Demographic data, morphologic and histopathologic tumor characteristics, and long-term survival rates were compared among the three tumor subclassifiations.
Results: The study confirms the marked differences in sex distribution, associated specialized intestinal metaplasia in the esophagus, tumor grading, tumor growth pattern, lymphatic spread, and stage between the three tumor entities. The degree of resection and lymph node status were the dominating independent prognostic factors by multivariate analysis. The data show no significant differences of long-term survival after abdomino-thoracic esophagectomy and extended total gastrectomy in these patients.
Conclusion: The classification of adenocarcinomas of the esophago-gastric junction in three types, AEG type I, type II and type III shows marked differences between the tumor entities and is recommended for selection of a proper surgical approach. Complete tumor resection and adequate lymphadenectomy are associated with good long-term prognosis. Better surgical management and standardized procedures will improve the outcome also of patients who need to undergo more radical surgery, i.e. abdomino-thoracic esophagectomy.