Long-Term Results of Subtotal Esophagectomy with Three-Field Lymphadenectomy for Carcinoma of the Thoracic Esophagus

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This study evaluated the impact of aggressive surgery on survival in patients with carcinoma of the thoracic esophagus.

Summary Background Data

Prognostic value of lymph-node status for patients with esophageal carcinoma was emphasized, although it is currently under debate whether extensive lymph node dissection improves survival.


Two hundred ninety-five patients with thoracic esophageal carcinoma were admitted to Kagoshima University Hospital from December 1982 to December 1990. Esophagectomy was performed on 244 (82.7%) of these patients; 106 of whom underwent three-field lymphadenectomy (bilateral cervical, mediastinal, and abdominal regions) were analyzed regarding lymph-node status, tumor recurrence, and the effect of prognostic factors on survival using Cox's proportional hazards model.


Hospital mortality and morbidity were 10.4% (11/106) and 65.1%, respectively. Seventy-eight patients (73.6%) had nodal involvement, including 49 patients with abdominal lymph-node metastases and 46 patients with recurrent nerve-node metastases. Five-year survival rates were 54.5% for 16 patients with a solitary nodal metastasis, 30.3% for stage III, 17.4% for stage IV, and 7.2% for 28 patients with six or more metastatic nodes. The most frequent sites of recurrence were the upper mediastinal region and the lung – its incidence increased significantly as the number of positive nodes increased. The most unfavorable prognostic factors included regional or recurrent nerve-node metastasis and patient age of more than 71 years.


Three-field lymphadenectomy, including especially the removal of bilateral recurrent nerve nodes in the cervical region, is essential for improving the survival of patients with carcinoma of the upper two thirds of the thoracic esophagus.

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