Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) represents an important advancement in the therapy of early neoplastic gastrointestinal lesions by providing higher en-bloc curative resection rate with lower recurrence compared to endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and by sparing the involved organ and protecting patient's quality of life. Despite these advantages ESD is associated with long procedure times and a higher rate of complications, making ESD a challenging procedure which requires advanced endoscopic skills. Thus, there has been a recognized need for structured training system for ESD to enhance trainee experience and, to reduce the risks of complications and inadequate treatment. ESD has a very flat learning curve. However, we do not have uniformly accepted benchmarks for competency. Nevertheless, it appears that, in Japan, more than 30 supervised gastric ESD procedures are required to achieve technical proficiency and minimize complications. A number of training algorithms have been proposed in Japan with the aim to standardize ESD training. These algorithms cannot be directly applied in the West due to substantial differences including the availability of highly qualified mentors, the type of pathology seen, choice of devices, and trainee's background. We propose a training algorithm for Western physicians which integrates both hands-on training courses, animal model work as well as visits to expert centers. No specific preceptor training programs have been yet developed but there is a consensus that these programs are important for permeation of ESD worldwide.
Keywords: Early gastrointestinal cancer; Endoscopic mucosal resection; Endoscopic submucosal dissection; Learning curve; Training.