Background and objective: Esophagectomy has previously been the gold standard for patients with mucosal adenocarcinoma in Barrett's esophagus (Barrett's carcinoma, BC). Because of the minimal invasiveness and excellent results obtained with endoscopic resection (ER), the latter has become an accepted alternative. However, few data have so far been published comparing the 2 treatment methods.
Methods: A total of 114 patients with mucosal BC who were treated surgically or endoscopically in 2 high-volume centers were included in this study. Between 1996 and 2009, 38 patients with mucosal BC received transthoracic esophageal resection with 2-field lymphadenectomy (median 29 lymph nodes removed; all pN0) in the Department of Surgery at the University of Cologne. Seventy-six patients with BC treated with ER followed by argon-plasma-coagulation of the remaining non-dysplastic Barrett's esophagus in the Department of Gastroenterology in Wiesbaden were matched according to the following criteria: age, gender, infiltration depth (pT1m1-3), differentiation grade (G1/2 vs. 3) and follow-up period.
Results: There were no significant differences between the 2 groups with regard to epidemiologic and tumor criteria. Complete remission (CR) was achieved in all patients in the surgery group and all but 1 patient in the ER group (98.7%; the patient died of other causes before CR was achieved). Major complications after surgery occurred in 32% of the patients, significantly more often than in the ER group (0% major complications, P < 0.001). The 90-day mortality rates were 0% in the ER group and 2.6% in the surgical group (1 of 38; P = 0.333). The median follow-up periods were 4.1 years in the ER group and 3.7 years in the surgical group. During this period, 1 patient in the ER group had a local recurrence and 4 had metachronous neoplasia (overall recurrence rate 6.6%). However, repeat endoscopic treatment was possible in all of the patients, and the long-term CR rates in the surgical and ER groups were 100% and 98.7%, respectively. No tumor-related mortality was observed in either group.
Conclusions: For patients with mucosal BC, both surgery and ER are effective treatment modalities. Surgery is associated with a higher morbidity rate and shows a risk for procedure-related mortality. However, the recurrence rate is higher in patients treated with ER, so that thorough follow-up procedures are mandatory.