Article Abstract

Overview of esophageal cancer

Authors: Ghulam Abbas, Mark Krasna


Esophageal cancer is a male-dominant aggressive malignancy and a leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma are the two predominant histological subtypes with varying geographical and racial distribution. Globally, squamous cell carcinoma remains the most common histological type. In Western countries, however, adenocarcinoma has become the leading histological subtype, corresponding to a rise in the incidence of obesity, gastro-esophageal reflux disease and Barrett’s esophagus. The risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma conferred by Barrett’s esophagus depends on factors such as genomic instability, race and gender of the patient. Treatment requires a multidisciplinary team approach and optimal therapy is still debated. Endoscopic therapies, including radiofrequency ablation, endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic sub mucosal dissection, have become the standard treatment modality for Barrett’s esophagus and early carcinoma. Multimodal treatment, which includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy followed by surgical resection or without surgical resection, in varying orders remains the main mode of treatment for most patients. Minimally invasive surgical approaches have become the standard for esophagectomy and the current literature has demonstrated similar oncological outcomes with reduced morbidity. Recently, there has been a modest improvement in the overall survival of patients with esophageal cancer.