Published online Oct 28, 2012. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i40.5679
Revised: June 25, 2012
Accepted: August 14, 2012
Published online: October 28, 2012
Carcinoma of the esophagus is an aggressive and lethal malignancy with an increasing incidence worldwide. Incidence rates vary internationally, with the highest rates found in Southern and Eastern Africa and Eastern Asia, and the lowest in Western and Middle Africa and Central America. Patients with locally advanced disease face a poor prognosis, with 5-year survival rates ranging from 15%-34%. Recent clinical trials have evaluated different strategies for management of locoregional cancer; however, because of stage migration and changes in disease epidemiology, applying these trials to clinical practice has become a daunting task. We searched Medline and conference abstracts for randomized studies published in the last 3 decades. We restricted our search to articles published in English. Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy followed by surgical resection is an accepted standard of care in the United States. Esophagectomy remains an essential component of treatment and can lead to improved overall survival, especially when performed at high volume institutions. The role of adjuvant chemotherapy following curative resection is still unclear. External beam radiation therapy alone is considered palliative and is typically reserved for patients with a poor performance status.