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Minerva Chirurgica 2002 December;57(6):717-32


language: Italian

New strategies in the treatment of esophageal cancer

Bidoli P., Aglione S., Toffolatti L., De Candis D., Bajetta E.


Esophageal cancer is uncommon, but its incidence is rapidly increasing in the Western countries because of the high incidence of the cardia esophageal adenocarcinoma. Notwithstanding the encouraging results achieved with surgical procedures, esophageal carcinoma has a poor prognosis with 5-year survival in 10% of cases without differences between both squamous and adenocarcinoma histologies. Almost 50% of esophageal cancer patients have unresectable disease at presentation; in the past years combined modality treatments, using chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy with or without surgery, have been evaluated to reduce the risk of local and/or distant recurrences. Ongoing regimens with new agents (Taxanes, Vinorelbine, Irinotecan), in association or not with platinum compounds, show good antitumor efficacy and tolerability, even in the metastatic disease. Preoperative strategies with radiation only did not give any advantage compared to surgery alone, instead, controversial results were obtained, with a minimal advantage, using chemotherapy. Combined chemotherapy and radiation, in suitable candidates for resection has shown an improvement of complete pathological responses, in both the histologies, but with superior toxicities when compared to chemotherapy or radiation therapy alone. Postoperative adjuvant therapies as radiation, chemotherapy or both, have not led to a marked improvement in overall survival and should be performed only in clinical trials. The use of chemoradiotherapy showed a clear advantage versus radiotherapy alone and in many cases equivalent to regimens plus surgery even if control studies haven't been performed. Clinical trials with novel biologic agents, in combination to chemotherapy or alone, against cell growth arrest, neoagiongenesis and tumor metastasis invasion process are currently under evaluation. In the coming years new markers as antigen Ki-67 determination, p53 mutation or high levels activity of thymidylate synthase and novel staging techniques as PET could be precious to identify the better treatment for each patient.

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