Current management of esophageal cancer

Xavier Benoit D’Journo, Pascal Alexandre Thomas


Management of esophageal cancer has evolved since the two last decades. Esophagectomy remains the primary treatment for early stage esophageal cancer although its specific role in superficial cancers is still under debate since the development of endoscopic mucosal treatment. To date, there is strong evidence to consider that locally advanced cancers should be recommended for a multimodal treatment with a neoadjuvant chemotherapy or a combined chemoradiotherapy (CRT) followed by surgery. For locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma or for a part of adenocarcinoma, some centers have proposed treating with definitive CRT to avoid related-mortality of surgery. In case of persistent or recurrent disease, a salvage esophagectomy remains a possible option but this procedure is associated with higher levels of perioperative morbidity and mortality. Despite the debate over what constitutes the best surgical approach (transthoracic versus transhiatal), the current question is if a minimally procedure could reduce the periopertive morbidity and mortality without jeopardizing the oncological results of surgery. Since the last decade, minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) or hybrid operations are being done in up to 30% of procedures internationally. There are some consistent data that MIE could decrease the incidence of the respiratory complications and decrease the length of hospital-stay. Nowadays, oncologic outcomes appear equivalent between open and minimally invasive procedures but numerous phase III trials are ongoing.