Influence of the Number of Malignant Regional Lymph Nodes Detected by Endoscopic Ultrasonography on Survival Stratification in Esophageal Adenocarcinoma

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Background & Aims:

The nodal staging of esophageal cancer accounts for the absence or presence of metastatic lymph nodes (N0 or N1, respectively). Surgical data suggest that patients have worse survival when esophagectomy specimens contain higher numbers of regional malignant lymph nodes. It has been proposed that the staging system for esophageal cancer be modified to include the number of malignant lymph nodes. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of the number of malignant-appearing regional lymph nodes detected on endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) on survival in patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma.


Historical case series involved patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma who underwent EUS staging at a single center between 1994 and 2004. Endoscopy reports were reviewed to determine the number of malignant-appearing periesophageal lymph nodes seen on EUS examination. Subjects were categorized as having 0, 1–2, or >2 periesophageal lymph nodes. A regional cancer registry prospectively obtained survival data.


Among 85 patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma, the Kaplan-Meier curves showed distinct survival advantages in those with fewer malignant-appearing regional lymph nodes (P = .0008). The median survivals were 66 months, 14.5 months, and 6.5 months for 0, 1–2, and >2 malignant-appearing lymph nodes, respectively. Survival was also influenced by celiac lymph nodes and tumor length, both of which were associated with increased number of malignant nodes.


The number of malignant-appearing periesophageal lymph nodes detected by EUS is associated with improved survival stratification in patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma and should be considered in the presurgical staging of esophageal cancer.

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