Extended Lymphadenectomy in Esophageal Cancer is Crucial
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- Tong, D. & Law, S. World J Surg (2013) 37: 1751. doi:10.1007/s00268-013-2068-8
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Surgery with lymphadenectomy remains the mainstay of treatment for esophageal cancer. The optimal extent of nodal dissection is controversial. Evidence is accumulating, however, that could demonstrate the benefits of extended lymphadenectomy, which include more accurate disease staging, better locoregional disease control, and improved survival. Except in very early disease where nodal metastases are rare, extended lymphadenectomy is indicated. Data from a randomized controlled trial comparing transhiatal and transthoracic resection have shown better survival in patients with limited nodal burden. Other investigations on en bloc resection, three-field lymphadenectomy, and large-scale international collaborative studies have all provided evidence for the more extensive approach to enhance cure for esophageal cancer. The more extended surgery does lead to potentially higher morbidity rates, and thus surgeons should be versatile in applying such techniques in carefully selected patients, so that postoperative survival and quality of life of patients are not compromised. The challenge in the future is how to tailor surgical strategies for individual patients in order to achieve the best outcome.