Esophageal cancer

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Accurate pretherapy staging for esophageal cancer is important for stage-directed therapy. Precise staging is also essential for quality control and ensuring the validity of clinical trials. Endoscopic ultrasound is currently the best technique in local regional staging. Various investigators have attempted to overcome the problems of nontraversable lesions and restaging after neoadjuvant therapy. Positron emission tomography scan was shown to be especially useful in identifying distant metastases. Its more widespread use is likely to impact on treatment strategies. Surgical resection remains the mainstay of treatment of esophageal cancer. Improvement in immediate postoperative morbidity, mortality, and long-term survival was shown by various reports to relate to experience and volume. The concept of three-field dissection was further defined by illustrating the importance of lymphadenectomy around the recurrent laryngeal nerves. Multimodality treatments continue to receive attention. Several studies have established the patterns of practice in the United States in treating esophageal cancer. Chemoradiation programs are gaining a more important role and are widely used, although their exact roles are uncertain. Closely related to this area of research is the search of molecular markers of favorable response to such therapies. Concerning palliative treatment for esophageal cancer, self-expanding metallic stents have a definite role in patients with malignant dysphagia. Their results and complications are reviewed. Lastly, quality-of-life issues have assumed more importance in studies in oncology. Prospective quality-of-life data should be evaluated in future studies on different treatment methods for this deadly disease.

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