Current Issues in the Staging of Esophageal Cancer.
Staging technology and the 1983 international staging system for esophageal cancer have changed. The 1988 system is based on depth of wall penetration and regional lymph node involvement; it abandons the previous criteria of tumor length and degree of obstruction. The clinical reasoning behind this change is reviewed. New staging technology includes chest computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), tranesophageal ultrasound (EUS), and invasive surgical staging. Overall accuracy of CT to predict depth of penetration is 80% to 85%. CT accuracy of regional lymph node status is less than 69%, but it is 90% accurate in the detection of distant metastases. MRI is comparable. EUS is 71% to 98% accurate in predicting depth of tumor invasion. Although highly sensitive (85% to 95%), the accuracy of EUS in predicting the status of lymph nodes is adversely affected by low specificity (50% to 60%), reducing its overall accuracy of node prediction to 70% to 88%. EUS may fail to assess intra-abdominal disease in 21% to 36% of patients secondary to esophageal obstruction. Regional nodes on both sides of the diaphragm can be assessed by laparoscopy combined with thoracoscopy. Thoracoscopy and laparoscopy have a greater than 92% accuracy in staging regional nodes. Such information is indispensable for the design of treatment fields. Combinations of these new technologies may provide improved preresectional staging.
Jaklitsch, MT; Harpole, DH; Healey, EA; Sugarbaker, DJ
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