Purpose and Design: Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) develops as a consequence of gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barrett’s esophagus (BE). While combination therapy with chemotherapy or concurrent chemoradiotherapy followed by esophagectomy improves survival in more advanced tumors, the optimal treatment strategy for early-stage EAC is undefined. Endoscopic eradication therapy, consisting of endoscopic resection and mucosal ablation, has revolutionized therapy for superficial (T1a) EAC in BE and allows for esophageal preservation in appropriate patients at low risk for lymph node metastasis (LNM). This review critically examines the literature regarding evaluation, treatment, and outcomes in patients with T1 EAC. Methods: The literature was queried via the PubMed database to include articles published between 1990 and 2017. Search terms were generated from the key statements “Endoscopic eradication therapy results in equivalent overall survival when compared to esophagectomy for clinical T1aN0 EAC” and “Esophagectomy provides better overall survival than endoscopic eradication therapy for cT1b EAC”. Abstracts were reviewed and included according to predefined selection and exclusion criteria, and were then assessed according to the GRADE system. Results and Conclusions: In patients with T1aN0 EAC, overall survival with endoscopic eradication therapy is equal to esophagectomy. Given the substantial risk of LNM in patients with submucosal (T1b) EAC, esophagectomy remains the standard of care for surgical candidates. In the case of inoperability or low-risk lesions, endoscopic resection may be considered adequate therapy. Chemotherapy and radiation can be offered as primary therapy for non-surgical candidates with lesions not amenable to endoscopic therapy, but does not have a clear role in the adjuvant setting after either endoscopic or surgical resection.
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