Adenocarcinoma of the Esophagus in the Young
Practitioners have noted a striking increase in the number of young patients under the age of 40 years old who develop esophageal adenocarcinoma. The aim of this study was to characterize the presentation, pathology and therapeutic outcome of these young patients.
The records of patients who presented to the Foregut Surgical Service at the University of Southern California with esophageal adenocarcinoma between 2000 and 2007 were retrospectively reviewed. The presentation, tumor stage and histology, therapy and outcome of the patients under the age of 40 were compared to those ≥40.
Of the 374 patients reviewed, 20 (5 %) were under the age of 40. There were two patients in their second and 18 in their third decade of life. The youngest patient was 25 years old. A history of gastroesophageal reflux disease or Barrett’s esophagus was less common in patients <40 than in those ≥40; 15 and 5 % compared to 61 and 46 %. Similarly, patients <40 had a significantly longer time interval between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis of their cancer than those ≥40; 4.5 vs. 2 months, p = 0.04. They also had a higher prevalence of stage IV disease (30 vs. 6 %, p = 0.0003), a shorter time to recurrence (9.5 vs.19 month, p = 0.002), and a poorer median survival (17 vs. 43 month, p = 0.04).
Esophageal adenocarcinoma in patients <40 years old commonly presents with an advanced stage of the disease and an associated poor survival. This is likely due to a low index of suspicion that dysphagia seen in younger patients is due to a malignancy.
KeywordsEsophageal cancer Neoadjuvant therapy Long-term outcome Esophagectomy Survival Age
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