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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 1999 December;54(12):835-42

language: Italian

Surgical palliation for thoracic esophageal carcinoma

Gentile M., Cecere C., Elia S., De Palma G., Fraioli G., Griffo S., Ferrante G.


Background. Esophageal carcinoma is frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage, therefore most patients may only benefit from surgical or endoscopic palliation.
Methods. From 1982 to 1998, out of 247 patients who underwent palliation for thoracic esophageal carcinoma, 29 (11.7%) underwent surgical palliation. Eight received a palliative resection, 10 a bypass, 5 a jejunostomy and 6 a gastrostomy. A retrosternal transposition of the stomach (17 patients) and colon (1 patient) was performed. In 15 out of 29 patients palliation was decided during surgical exploration. All resected patients underwent postoperative radiotherapy (400 Gy) while 3 received also preoperative chemotherapy (PDD and % FU).
Results. Seven temporary neck fistulas and 9 cardiorespiratory complications were recorded. Two patients (11%) died of severe cardiac and respiratory insufficiency. Mean survival for resected patients was 12.5 months (range 3-21), higher than for bypass (11.5 months; range 3-18) and for jejunostomy or gastrostomy (5 months; range 2-12).
Conclusions. Palliative resection, when technically feasible, is the treatment of choice in advanced thoracic esophageal carcinoma in selected patients. The type of procedure to be performed depends on site, extent of the disease and surgeon's experience together with the quality of life expected by the patient.

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