Carcinosarcomas of the esophagus: systematic review of a rare nosologic entity

J BUON. 2018 Sep-Oct;23(5):1432-1438.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to systematically review the literature of esophageal carcinosarcomas (ECS) and report epidemiologic and clinicopathologic data for this rare entity. We also attempted to shed light to the biologic behavior of ECSs with special reference to factors that may affect disease-free (DES) and overall survival (OS).

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library databases (Search date: 12 May 2017). The search strategy referred to carcinosarcoma OR pseudosarcoma OR polypoid carcinoma OR sarcomatoid carcinoma OR spindle-cell squamous cell carcinoma OR metaplastic carcinoma OR pseudosarcomatous carcinoma AND esophagus. A total number of 103 ECS patients was identified. Results: ECs most frequently occur in middle-aged as well as elderly men with a history of smoking or drinking. Middle and/or lower esophagus remains the most common location. Imaging plays a pivotal role in the management of ECS by delineating the anatomic extent of the tumor and thereby determining the appropriate therapeutic strategy. Nevertheless, immunohistochemistry is the gold standard for the diagnosis of carcinosarcomas, since it has been demonstrated that CEA, EMA, pancreatin, chromogranin A, CD56 and synaptophysin staining are highly specific markers for the carcinomatous components, while desmin, vimentin and smooth muscle/sarcomeric actin show affinity for the sarcomatous elements. Esophagectomy has been traditionally considered the treatment modality of choice. Endoscopic procedures, including mucosal resection and submucosal dissection have also been proposed. Alternative therapies, such as radio- and chemotherapy proved insufficient.

Conclusion: ECS is a rare tumor. Immunohistochemistry is the gold standard for the diagnosis of this disease. Esophagectomy has been traditionally considered the treatment modality of choice. Endoscopic procedures have also been proposed while potential benefit of alternative therapies, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy remains controversial.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinosarcoma / diagnosis*
  • Carcinosarcoma / metabolism
  • Carcinosarcoma / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male