How radical should surgery be for early esophageal cancer?

World J Surg. 2011 Jun;35(6):1311-20. doi: 10.1007/s00268-011-1069-8.


Background: We have compared the oncologic effectiveness of limited resection (LR) techniques such as transhiatal (TH) or limited resection of the esophagogastric junction with intestinal interposition (LREGJ) in the treatment of early esophageal carcinoma with that of the extended resection such as the classical thoracoabdominal (TA) en bloc esophagectomy.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data of 113 patients with T1 esophageal cancer (57 adeno- and 56 squamous cell carcinomas) who had surgical resection with systematic lymphadenectomy. Forty-one underwent extensive (TA) and 72 limited resection (51 TH and 21 LREGJ).

Results: Complete resection (R0) was achieved in all cases. Lymphatic metastases were seen in none of the mucosal but in 26.8% of the submucosal T1 cancers. The median lymph node yield was significantly higher in patients with extensive resection (24 vs. 15 lymph nodes; p=0.036), but this did not affect the overall survival (median=88 vs. 102 months, 5-year survival probability=57.8 vs. 67.7%; log rank=0.578). The median hospital stay and ICU stay were significantly shorter in the LR group (p=0.039 and p = 0.044, respectively).

Conclusion: Limited resection leads to lower lymph node yield but similar oncologic effectiveness as the extensive surgery. It may represent a valuable alternative in the treatment of patients with early (submucosal) esophageal carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Esophagectomy / methods*
  • Esophagectomy / mortality
  • Esophagogastric Junction / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospital Mortality / trends
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thoracotomy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome