European Journal of Surgical Oncology vol:31 issue:6 pages:587-94
Surgical treatment of cancer of the esophagus and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) remains a complex and challenging task. Quality of care may be improved by concentrating these patients in high volume centres in order to decrease post-operative mortality. However, it appears that hospital mortality is a poor tool to measure the quality. More likely specialisation as well as appropriate hospital environment supporting a dedicated multidisciplinary team are key elements in improving both the short term and long term results. The dedicated specialist surgeon has a key role in improving these results through surgical quality. The most important goal in the surgical treatment of these cancers is to perform a complete resection (R0). Data from literature seem to indicate that R0 resection combined with extensive lymphadenectomy are resulting in improved disease free survival and possibly in improved 5 year survival, often reported to exceed 35% after such interventions. These results suggest that there is a great need for standardisation of surgery. Such a standardisation and the resulting improved quality most likely will result in a significant improvement of outcome of esophagectomy for cancer of the esophagus and GEJ. These improvements in outcome should become the gold standard to which all other therapeutic regimens should be compared. Poor surgical quality and related poor results should not be a justification for multimodality regimen.