Endoscopic Resection of Superficial Esophageal Squamous-Cell Carcinomas: Western Experience

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Endoscopic resection of esophageal squamous-cell neoplasia with curative intent appears to be an alternative treatment to radical surgery when the malignant neoplasia is intraepithelial or limited to the mucosal layer, since the risk for lymph-node metastases is very low. In contrast to Japan, there has so far been only limited experience in Europe and the United States with endoscopic resection in such cases. In the present observational study, we report on the largest prospective series so far in Western countries of patients with early squamous-cell cancer or carcinoma in situ, who were treated using endoscopic resection therapy.


Between December 1997 and November 2001, 115 patients with a suspicion of early squamous cancer were referred for local endoscopic therapy. A total of 39 patients (mean age 61.4 ± 10.2 yr) with early esophageal carcinoma (n = 29) and carcinoma in situ (Cis) (n = 10) fulfilled the criteria for local endoscopic therapy and were treated using endoscopic resection. Ten patients had Cis (group A), 19 had mucosal cancer (group B), and 10 had submucosal cancer (group C). All patients in group C were inoperable or had refused surgery.


A total of 94 resections were performed. Nine of the 10 patients in group A (90%), 19 of the 19 in group B (100%), and 8 of the 10 in group C (80%) achieved a complete response during a mean follow-up period of 29.7 ± 14.3 months. Tumor-related deaths occurred in three patients (one in group B, who was inoperable; two in group C, who refused surgery). No major complications such as perforation or bleeding requiring blood transfusion occurred. Minor complications were seen in six patients (15%)—three with minor bleeding after endoscopic resection and three with esophageal stenoses, who were successfully treated using injection therapy or dilatation. Calculated 5-yr survival was 90% in group A, 89% in group B, and 0% in group C.


Endoscopic resection appears to be an effective and safe method of curative treatment in patients with Cis and mucosal squamous-cell carcinomas of the esophagus. The preferred method in patients with submucosal cancer should be esophagectomy or chemoradiotherapy, whenever possible.

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