To clarify the biologic behavior of esophageal signet ring cell (SRC) carcinomas of the esophagus and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ). To evaluate the accuracy of pretreatment biopsies in diagnosing true SRC carcinoma.Background:
In contrast with gastric cancer, little is known about the biologic behavior and prognosis of SRC.Methods:
All adenocarcinomas (ADC) of the esophagus and GEJ-patients undergoing primary resection between 1990 and 2009 were included (n = 920). Specimens containing SRCs (n = 114) were classified according to World Health Organization criteria (>50% SRC or <50% SRC).Results:
Thirty-two patients showed more than 50% SRC and 71 patients showed less than 50% SRC. Overall cancer-specific 5-year survival was worse for SRC (22.4%, P < 0.0001) and for SRC > 50% (13.6%, P = 0.0001) compared with ADC. Complete resection was achieved in 86.5% of patients (n = 697) in ADC, 69.5% (n = 57) in SRC < 50%, and 78.1% (n = 25) in SRC > 50% (vs ADC, respectively, P < 0.0001 and P = 0.1801). In 379 pN + R0 patients, the median number of positive lymph nodes was comparable between ADC and SRC < 50% (4 vs 5, P = 0.207) or SRC > 50% (4 vs 8, P = 0.077). Compared with ADC, SRC > 50% showed more pN3's (30% vs 61%, P = 0.006), higher recurrence (56% vs 42% for ADC, P = 0.003), and local-regional recurrences (29% vs 16%, P = 0.002). Pretreatment biopsies were unreliable to define the presence of SRC > 50% (sensitivity = 56.3%, positive predictive value = 43.9%).Conclusions:
SRCs are aggressive neoplasms associated with poorer prognosis than other ADCs after primary esophagectomy. Because our data suggest that pretreatment biopsies failed to reliably define presence of SRC > 50%, presence of SRCs in pretreatment biopsies seems to be of no use to define treatment strategy or prognosis.