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World J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jun;9(6):1156-64.

Primary adenocarcinomas of lower esophagus, esophagogastric junction and gastric cardia: in special reference to China.

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Cancer Institute, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310009, Jiangsu Province, China.


Gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA) is an under-studied subject. The pathogenesis, molecular changes in the early stage of carcinogenesis and related risk factors have not been well characterized. There is evidence, however, that GCA differs from cancer of the rest of the stomach in terms of natural history and histopathogenesis. Adenocarcinomas of the lower esophagus, esophagogastric junction (EGJ) and gastric cardia have been given much attention because of their increasing incidences in the past decades, which is in striking contrast with the steady decrease in distal stomach adenocarcinoma. In China, epidemiologically, GCA shares very similar geographic distribution with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), especially in Linzhou (formerly Linxian County), Henan Province, North China, the highest incidence area of esophageal SCC in the world. Historically, both GCA and SCC in these areas were referred to as esophageal cancer (EC) by the public because of the common syndrome of dysphagia. In Western countries, Barrett's esophagus is very common and has been considered as an important precancerous lesion of adenocarcinoma at EGJ. Because of the low incidence of Barrett's esophagus in China, it is unlikely to be an important factor in early stage of EGJ adenocarcinoma development. However, Z line up-growth into lower esophagus may be one of the characteristic changes in these areas in early stage of GCA development. Whether intestinal metaplasia (IM) is a premalignant lesion for GCA is still not clear. Higher frequency of IM observed at adjacent GCA tissues in Henan suggests the possibility of IM as a precancerous lesion for GCA in these areas. Molecular information on GCA, especially in early stage, is very limited. The accumulated data about the changes of tumor suppressor gene, such as p53 mutation, and ontogeny, such as C-erbB2, especially the similar alterations in GCA and SCC in the same patient, indicated that there might be some similar risk factors, such as nitrosamine, involved in both GCA and SCC in Henan population. The present observations also suggest that GCA should be considered as a distinct entity.

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