Indexed on: 21 May '11Published on: 21 May '11Published in: Der Chirurg; Zeitschrift fur alle Gebiete der operativen Medizen
Endoscopic methods are increasingly propagated as oncologically adequate and less invasive treatment modalities for early esophageal cancer compared to surgery. The superiority or equality of endoscopic treatment has, however, so far not been proven by controlled trials. Current guidelines and an analysis of recently published data support surgical resection and lymphadenectomy as the standard of care for early esophageal cancer. This is based on the following arguments: 1) a reliable complete tumor resection with clear margins in all directions (R0 resection) including removal of all precancerous and precursor lesions can currently only be achieved by surgical resection, 2) none of the currently available staging tools allows definitive exclusion of lymphatic spread. A potentially curative surgical lymphadenectomy should thus only be omitted in well-defined subgroups. 3) In experienced hands surgical resection and lymphadenectomy can be performed with low mortality and morbidity, 4) reproducible and reliable data on long-term recurrence-free survival and quality of life are currently only available for surgical series. Thus, endoscopic therapy for early esophageal cancer is an alternative to surgical resection with lymphadenectomy only in patients unfit for surgery and in strictly defined low-risk situations.