The Journal of surgical research vol:117 issue:1 pages:58-63
The overall prognosis of patients with carcinoma of the esophagus and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) remains poor mainly because of the advanced stage of the disease at the time of presentation. As a result, controversy persists over the appropriate extent of surgery. This article reviews the impact of aggressive surgery on staging, disease-free survival, and cure rate. Despite recent advances in staging including positron emission tomography (PET), the findings after aggressive surgery indicate that the overall accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of clinical staging are still too low. These shortcomings in clinical staging therefore question the value of the indications, results, and interpretation of outcomes in multimodality treatment regimens. Extended surgery increases the R(0) resection rate, which seems to have an undeniable beneficial effect on the incidence of locoregional recurrence and which should be considered as a parameter of surgical quality, especially within the context of multimodality trials. As to the effect on cure rate, the only randomized trial with published results did not indicate a significant difference between extended and more limited resections for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and GEJ, albeit that a subsequent subanalysis did show a significant survival benefit favoring more extended surgery in distal third adenocarcinomas. However, the bulk of current literature suggests that better survival is achieved by more aggressive surgery. For three-field lymphadenectomy the available data suggest a potential survival benefit. It appears that positive cervical lymph nodes in patients with middle or proximal third carcinoma should no longer be considered as M(1a/b) distant lymph node metastasis but rather as N(1) regional disease.