Background: The prognosis for patients with esophageal carcinoma is poor, with less than fifty percent surviving 1 year after diagnosis. Although diagnostic and staging methods have improved, a large proportion of patients present with advanced disease. Research is being conducted to determine what multimodality treatment regimens provide the best local control and survival.
Methods: Using the National Cancer Data Base's most current accrual of oncologic data for cases diagnosed in 1988 and 1993, patterns of care and outcome were analyzed for esophageal carcinoma.
Results: A substantial increase was demonstrated between 1988 and 1993 in the proportion of esophageal adenocarcinomas and patients presenting with Stage IV disease. The therapeutic regimen most frequently employed in 1993 was combined radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which rose 8.2% from 2.2% in 1988.
Conclusions: The dramatic rise across the years of this study in the occurrence of esophageal adenocarcinomas indicates a need for developing strategies to evaluate Barrett's preneoplastic mucosal changes more precisely. The increasing use of combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy reflects the results of randomized trials that have demonstrated improved response and outcome for this combined regimen compared with radiation therapy alone. There was no substantial increase in the use of surgical resection with chemotherapy and radiation therapy throughout these years.