Survival Implications of Increased Utilization of Local Excision for cT1N0 Esophageal Cancer

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We hypothesized that patients with cT1N0 esophageal cancer undergoing local excision would have lower survival compared with esophagectomy due to potential discordant staging.


Local excision has become an attractive alternative for management of early esophageal cancer, avoiding the morbidity of esophagectomy. It is uncertain if occult nodal metastasis impacts survival.


An observational study was conducted using the National Cancer Database (1998–2012) for patients with clinical T1N0 esophageal cancer who underwent local excision (n = 1625) or esophagectomy (n = 3255).


The proportion of patients undergoing local excision increased from 12% in 1998 to 50% in 2012 (P < 0.001). After esophagectomy, 61% of cT1N0 cancers had concordant clinical and pathological staging, with 5.2% having positive nodal disease; 37% were staged concordant after local excision, with excess missing data (60%). Ninety-day mortality was 7.4% after esophagectomy compared with 2.8% after local excision (P < 0.001). While no significant difference was seen in unadjusted survival, adjusted Cox regression analysis indicated worse survival after esophagectomy compared with local excision for all cases [hazard ratio (HR) 1.57, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.27–1.95] and for patients with concordant staging (HR 1.68, 95% CI 1.23–2.28).


Local excision for cT1N0 esophageal cancer has increased over time. Contrary to our hypothesis, despite incomplete nodal staging, patients undergoing local excision have favorable survival, particularly in the adenocarcinoma subgroup. This may reflect early differences in mortality due to differences in procedure-related complications and/or selection bias. As this study has limited power to compare outcomes between T1a and T1b cancers, further analysis is warranted.

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