Published online Aug 14, 2010. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i30.3804
Revised: June 7, 2010
Accepted: June 14, 2010
Published online: August 14, 2010
Esophageal cancer continues to represent a formidable challenge for both patients and clinicians. Relative 5-year survival rates for patients have improved over the past three decades, probably linked to a combination of improved surgical outcomes, progress in systemic chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and the increasing acceptance of multimodality treatment. Surgical treatment remains a fundamental component of the treatment of localized esophageal adenocarcinoma. Multiple approaches have been described for esophagectomy, which can be thematically grouped under two major categories: either transthoracic or transhiatal. The main controversy rests on whether a more extended resection through thoracotomy provides superior oncological outcomes as opposed to resection with relatively limited morbidity and mortality through a transhiatal approach. After numerous trials have addressed these issues, neither approach has consistently proven to be superior to the other one, and both can provide excellent short-term results in the hands of experienced surgeons. Moreover, the available literature suggests that experience of the surgeon and hospital in the surgical management of esophageal cancer is an important factor for operative morbidity and mortality rates, which could supersede the type of approach selected. Oncological outcomes appear to be similar after both procedures.