Treatment of carcinoma of the proximal esophagus

Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1989 Apr;168(4):307-10.


Selection of therapy for carcinoma of the proximal esophagus is controversial. We reviewed our experience with 41 patients with carcinoma of the esophagus within 24 centimeters of the incisor teeth to address this issue. Thirty-seven patients had squamous cell carcinoma, three had adenocarcinoma and one patient had a mucoepidermoid carcinoma. Seventeen patients underwent surgical therapy, which consisted of a resection in 15, colonic bypass in one patient and extracorporeal bypass in one. Ten patients underwent postoperative radiation therapy. Radiation therapy was the primary treatment in 23 patients and chemotherapy alone in one patient. The three month mortality rate was similar for patients with tumor resection and for those receiving radiation therapy as the primary treatment. Median survival time for patients undergoing resection and adjuvant radiation therapy was 12 months and seven months for those receiving only irradiation. Statistical analyses were not performed because patients with radiation only had more advanced disease, invalidating comparison. In terms of palliation, ten of the patients who had radiation therapy could eat solid food, seven could only swallow liquids and six had persistent, complete obstruction. All 12 of the survivors who had a resection were able to eat solid food. Although the one month mortality rate is higher for those treated surgically than with radiation therapy, the three month mortality rates are similar. Surgical treatment provides better palliation and a reasonable survival time and is preferred for patients with resectable disease who are physiologically fit enough to undergo operation. A benefit of postoperative adjuvant radiation therapy is undefined but probably present.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / radiotherapy
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma / surgery*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged