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Recurrence at the cervical anastomosis of a tumour of the oesophagogastric junction after resection of the oesophagus with gastric tube reconstruction is a peculiar phenomenon in view of the distance of the primary tumour from the proximal anastomosis. It is hypothesised that contamination with tumour cells from the nasogastric tube or the gastric reconstruction tube could be responsible for this phenomenon.Fifteen patients with a tumour of the oesophagus or gastric cardia were included. During the operation the nasogastric tube was left in the resected specimen. Debris from the tube was washed out for cytological examination. Also the gastric reconstruction tube was washed out and the debris examined for malignant cells.In all of the patients with a tumour extending intraluminally malignant cells were found in the nasogastric tube or the gastric reconstruction tube or both. In 92% of these patients malignant cells were found in the nasogastric tube, while 60% of the gastric reconstruction tubes were contaminated with tumour cells.The presence of intraluminal malignant cells during oesophageal resection and gastric tube reconstruction is very high, possibly leading to anastomotic recurrence. Measures should be taken to minimise local contamination with tumour cells.