, Volume 71, Issue 6, pp 317-325
Date: 13 Jan 2010

Management of oesophageal cancer

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Abstract

Oesophageal cancer is a disease of dismal prognosis. There are variations of epidemiology among different ethnic groups and geographic regions. India is a country with high incidence. This can be attributed to the interplay between environmental, dietary factors and life-style of the population of the country. Optimal therapeutic strategy for patients with oesophageal cancer demands individual consideration.

Majority of oesophageal cancer patients present at an advanced stage of disease. Screening programmes or strategies aiming at early diagnosis can improve the prognosis; unfortunately this is not cost-effective except in very high incidence areas. Accurate staging can help select the most appropriate treatments, such as excluding those patients with metastatic disease who are unlikely to benefit from surgery, and treating very early lesions with endoscopic means. When surgery is indicated, treating patient in a high-volume centre can improve the outcome and minimise complications. Although surgical resection remains the main treatment modality, long-term prognosis after surgical resection alone has been suboptimal except in those with early disease. Multidisciplinary approaches including chemotherapy and radiotherapy with or without surgery are increasingly employed for patients with advanced disease. Collaboration among surgeons, clinical oncologists, radiologists and physicians is of utmost importance to achieve the best results. Treatment for patients should be individualised to enhance outcome.