Prognostic factors for the survival of patients with esophageal carcinoma in the U.S.

The importance of tumor length and lymph node status

Authors

  • Mohamad A. Eloubeidi M.D., M.H.S.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
    2. Biostatistics Unit, Comprehensive Cancer Center, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
    • Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 1530 3rd Avenue South, ZRB 636, Birmingham, AL 35294-0007
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Fax: 205-975-6381

  • Renee Desmond Ph.D.,

    1. Biostatistics Unit, Comprehensive Cancer Center, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Miguel R. Arguedas M.D., M.P.H.,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Carolyn E. Reed M.D.,

    1. Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina
    Search for more papers by this author
  • C. Mel Wilcox M.D.

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The current TNM classification system does not consider tumor length or the number of lymph nodes in the staging and classification scheme for patients with esophageal carcinoma. Using data from the National Cancer Institute SEER Program, the authors explored the effect of tumor length and number of positive lymph nodes on survival in patients with esophageal carcinoma.

METHODS

Patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma were subgrouped according to historic stage with localized, regional, or distant disease. Demographic factors (age at diagnosis, race, and gender) and tumor characteristics (morphology, histologic grade, tumor length, primary site, depth of invasion, number of positive lymph nodes, proportion of positive lymph nodes dissected, and distant metastatic sites) were examined.

RESULTS

Overall factors that were associated with an increased mortality risk included increasing age at diagnosis, black race versus white race, histologic grade, primary tumor site in the lower esophagus and abdomen versus upper regions, and increasing depth of invasion. Among patients with regional disease, the number of positive lymph nodes (≥ 5 vs. < 5) was related to an increasing risk (hazard ratio [HR], 1.29; 95% confidence interval [95%CI], 1.06–1.56). The proportion of positive lymph nodes compared with the number of lymph nodes dissected conferred an increased risk (HR, 1.63; 95%CI, 1.26–2.11). Among patients with distant disease, sites other than distant lymph nodes implied an increased mortality risk (HR, 1.37; 95%CI, 1.37–1.65). Tumor length was an independent predictor of mortality when controlling for depth of invasion in patients with localized disease (HR, 1.15; 95%CI, 1.08–1.21).

CONCLUSIONS

Tumor length, the number of involved lymph nodes, and the ratio of positive lymph nodes are important prognostic factors for survival in patients with esophageal carcinoma. A revised TNM classification system for patients with esophageal carcinoma might consider adding tumor length and number of positive lymph nodes as two important prognostic factors. Cancer 2002;95:1434–43. © 2002 American Cancer Society.

DOI 10.1002/cncr.10868

Ancillary