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Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003 Apr;15(2):180-6.

Section III: endoscopic and other staging techniques.

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Harvard Medical School, Associate Director of Endoscopy, Gastroenterology Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Accurate staging of esophageal cancer is important as disease survival closely correlates with TNM stage. The optimal management of patients with esophageal cancer utilizes stage-dependent algorithms. The primary diagnosis of esophageal cancer is established by upper endoscopy and biopsy. Computed tomography (CT) is typically the next test performed and is most valuable at detecting metastatic (M) distant disease, particularly in the liver, lungs, and bone. Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning with 18-fluorodeoxyglucose also is useful in detecting distant disease. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) combines endoscopy with high-frequency ultrasonography to obtain detailed images of the tumor and surrounding structures. EUS is the most accurate technique for the locoregional (T and N) staging of esophageal cancer. The recent availability of EUS-directed fine needle aspiration (FNA) has allowed a tissue diagnosis of lymph nodes both periesophageal and in the celiac axis. EUS-FNA can also sample liver metastases. Laparoscopic and thoracoscopic techniques can also be used to sample thoracic and celiac axis lymph nodes. Optimal staging strategies for esophageal cancer combine EUS FNA with either CT or PET scans.

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