Background and study aims: Endoscopic mucosal resection of early esophageal cancer has increasingly proved to be an effective treatment modality, especially if the tumor has not invaded the muscularis mucosae. Different techniques have been introduced, using an overtube, double-channel endoscope, or suction cap. We have not found that these devices are required for snare resection in the esophagus.
Patients and methods: Over a period of two years (1994-1996), seven patients (five men and two women, age range 59-88) with early esophageal cancer defined by endosonography (3 cm or less in size, limited to the submucosal layer) were treated using a simplified technique of endoscopic snare resection using a monopolar diathermic polypectomy snare made of monofilament steel wire. The snare was positioned around the lesion, and then closed while pressing the snare against the mucosa and applying suction to draw the lesion into the snare. Pure coagulation current was used for resection. If necessary, a piecemeal technique was used to achieve complete removal.
Results: Complete removal was achieved in one session in all seven cases. No complications were observed. Two patients underwent radical surgery with no tumor remnant or metastatic lymph node in the resected specimen. All patients have remained free of recurrence during a median follow-up period of seven months (range 3-22 months). Two patients died of cardiovascular disease four and eight months after endoscopic mucosal resection.
Conclusion: Small early esophageal cancer can be safely removed with a simplified method of endoscopic snare resection using a standard monofilament polypectomy snare.