Mapping patterns of nodal metastases in esophageal carcinoma: rethinking the clinical target volume for supraclavicular nodal irradiation

Yijun Luo, Yuhui Liu, Xiaoli Wang, Bin Zhang, Jinming Yu, Chengang Wang, Yong Huang, Minghuan Li


Background: To map detail distribution of metastatic supraclavicular (SCV) lymph nodes (LN) in esophageal cancer (EC) patients and determine the precise radiation therapy clinical target volume (CTV).
Methods: A total of 101 thoracic esophageal carcinoma patients after surgery experienced SCV LN metastasis were retrospectively examined. The SCV region is further divided into four subgroups. Using hand drawings registration, nodes were mapped to a template computed tomogram to provide a visual impression of nodal frequencies and anatomic distribution.
Results: In all, 158 nodes were considered to be clinical metastatic in the SCV region in the 101 patients, 74 on the left and 84 on the right. Seven of 158 (4.4%) positive LN were located in group I, 78 of 158 (49.37%) were located in group II, 72 of 158 nodes (45.6%) were located in group III, 1 of 158 (0.63%) located in group IV.
Conclusions: According to our results, the SCV group II and group III are considered to be the high risk regions of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) LN metastasis, which were defined as elective nodal irradiation (ENI) areas.