Journal of Surgical Oncology vol:92 issue:3 pages:218-29
Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) has shown a remarkable increase during recent decades. Most patients are present with advanced stage disease, reflecting transmural growth and metastasis to lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis. Moreover, the pattern of lymph node dissemination is chaotic and difficult to predict, and despite the use of modern technology (e.g., spiral CT, EUS, FDG-PET), clinical staging remains suboptimal. These shortcomings in staging, as well as in different attitudes toward extent of resection and lymphadenectomy, are reflected by a great variation in surgical techniques, which are discussed in this review. As to the results, primary surgery can currently be performed with low mortality, below 5% in high volume centers. Hospital mortality and morbidity are mainly related to pulmonary complications and anastomotic leaks, the latter mostly resolving under conservative treatment. Overall 5-year survival varies between 10% and 59%. As expected the most important prognostic determinants are completeness of resection (R0 vs. R1-R2) and lymph node status (N0, N1). R0 resection currently offers 5-year survival rates of over 40%. Five-year survival figures for node-negative (N0) patients exceed 70%, and even for node-positive (N1), patients reach 25%. It is not known whether performing a three-field lymph node dissection is beneficial for patients with adenocarcinoma of the distal esophagus. With overall 5-year survival currently exceeding 30%-40%, these figures should be the gold standard against which all other therapeutic modalities are compared.