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Surg Oncol. 2000 Jul;9(1):35-41.

Cancer of the esophagogastric junction.

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Chirurgische Klinik und Poliklinik, Klinikum rechts der Isar der Technischen Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Munich, Germany.


In the Western world, there has been an alarming rise in the incidence and prevalence of adenocarcinoma arising at the esophagogastric junction during recent decades. Epidemiological, clinical and pathological data support a sub-classification of adenocarcinomas arising in the vicinity of the esophagogastric junction (AEG) into adenocarcinoma of the distal esophagus (Type I), true carcinoma of the cardia (Type II) and subcardial carcinoma (Type III). While most, if not all, adenocarcinomas of the distal esophagus arise from areas with specialized intestinal metaplasia, which develop as a consequence of chronic gastroesophageal reflux, the etiology and pathogenesis of true carcinoma of the gastric cardia and subcardial gastric cancer is not clear at present. Although a subgroup of true carcinomas of the gastric cardia may also develop within short segments of intestinal metaplasia at the esophagogastric junction, a causal relation between these tumors and gastroesophageal reflux has been difficult to establish. Irrespective of the etiology, a complete removal of the primary tumor and its lymphatic drainage has to be the primary goal of any surgical approach to adenocarcinoma of the esophagogastric junction. Our experience in the management of more than 1000 such patients during the past 18 years suggests that an individualized therapeutic strategy oriented by tumor type and stage results in survival rates superior to those reported with a more indiscriminate approach. This individualized strategy prescribes a transmediastinal esophagectomy with lymphadenectomy in the lower posterior mediastinum and along the celiac axis for Type I tumors, extended total gastrectomy with transhiatal resection of the distal esophagus and D2 lymphadenectomy for Type II and Type III tumors, a limited resection of the esophagogastric junction and distal esophagus with interposition of a pedicled jejunal segment for uT1N0 tumors, and neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by resection for uT3/T4 tumors. Extensive preoperative staging is essential to allow correct selection of the appropriate therapeutic strategy using this tailored approach.

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