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Cancer. 1995 Mar 1;75(5):1061-4.

The relationship of macroscopic shape of superficial esophageal carcinoma to depth of invasion and regional lymph node metastasis.

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  • 1First Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.



There has been considerable controversy with regard to surgical strategies for the treatment of superficial esophageal carcinoma, which is characterized by tumor confined within the epithelium (EP), muscularis mucosae (MM), or submucosa (SM). The relationships among macroscopic shape, depth of invasion, and lymph node involvement in superficial tumors were investigated to devise therapeutic strategies for patients with such disease.


Thirty-three patients with superficial primary esophageal cancer underwent esophagectomy with regional lymph node dissection (3 EP, 6 MM, and 24 SM). Tumors were divided into two types according to macroscopic characteristics: (1) tumors with elevated components and (2) flat or depressed tumors without an elevated component.


Tumors with an elevated component (n = 19) showed invasion of the deep layer, and a high incidence of lymph node metastasis. Conversely, tumors without an elevated component (n = 14) showed varied depths of invasion, and, with one exception, had no lymph node involvement.


The existence of an elevated component in superficial esophageal cancer is an important macroscopic feature suggesting submucosal invasion and a high probability of lymph node involvement. More intensive treatment should be adopted for such tumors, whereas localized resection may be feasible for tumors without an elevated component.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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