What is the earliest malignant lesion in the esophagus?

Cancer. 1996 Apr 15;77(8 Suppl):1614-9. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0142(19960415)77:8<1614::AID-CNCR29>3.0.CO;2-1.


Background: The incidence of early esophageal cancer is definitely increasing due to recent advances in diagnostics. When we discuss early carcinoma of the esophagus, however, there is still controversy as to whether dysplasia is either benign or the earliest malignant lesion.

Methods: Nineteen resected esophaguses with both cancer and dysplasia (including 19 cancers concomitant with 26 dysplastic lesions) were studied for expression of p53 protein.

Results: Immunohistochemical overexpression of p53 protein in esophageal dysplasia is almost the same as that in cancer.

Conclusions: Esophageal dysplasia should be recognized as the earliest malignant lesion which already demonstrates cancerous features although it is not immediately critical. A routine endoscopic Lugol's solution test is very useful for both detection and following-up of the early nests in the esophagus. These lesions are good candidates for endoscopic mucosal resection for the purpose of accurate diagnosis or curative treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Esophageal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Precancerous Conditions / therapy
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / analysis


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53