Recent progress in multidisciplinary treatment for patients with esophageal cancer

Surg Today. 2020 Jan;50(1):12-20. doi: 10.1007/s00595-019-01878-7. Epub 2019 Sep 18.


Esophageal cancer is one of the most aggressive gastrointestinal cancers. This review focuses on eight topics within the multidisciplinary approach for esophageal cancer. As esophagectomy is highly invasive and likely to impair quality of life, the development of less invasive strategies is expected. Endoscopic resection (ER) of early esophageal cancer is a less invasive treatment for early esophageal cancer. A recent phase II trial revealed that combined ER and chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is efficacious as an esophagus-preserving treatment for cT1bN0 squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Esophagectomy and definitive CRT are equally effective for patients with clinical stage I SCC in terms of long-term outcome. For locally advanced resectable cancers, multidisciplinary treatment strategies have been established through several clinical trials of neoadjuvant or perioperative treatment. Minimally invasive esophagectomy may improve the outcomes of patients and CRT is a curative-intent alternative to esophagectomy. CRT with 50.4 Gy radiotherapy combined with salvage surgery is a promising option to preserve the esophagus. Induction chemotherapy followed by esophagectomy may improve the outcomes of patients with locally advanced unresectable tumors. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are effective for esophageal cancer, and their introduction to clinical practice is awaited.

Keywords: Chemoradiotherapy; Esophageal cancer; Esophagectomy; Multidisciplinary treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy / trends
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Esophagectomy
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Esophagus / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / trends
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Salvage Therapy