The scientists from the Mayo Clinic have discovered that preliminary stages of esophageal cancers could be effectually treated by the minimally invasive endoscopic treatment, thus circumventing the need for the removal of the esophagus by surgical means.
The vastly spreading esophageal cancer that arises from Barrett’s esophagus has been noted to have the faster rate of proliferation than any other form of cancer in the U.S.
Nearly ten percent of patients having acute acid reflux develop alterations in the tissues which are typical to Barrett’s esophagus that could cause cancer. The tumor is fatal with 90% of the patients dying in the span of five years of being diagnosed.
Dr. Ganapathy Prasad, M.D., endocrinologist cum lead author on the research stated that in 20% of esophageal cancer cases in the United States the cancer is diagnosed in the preliminary stages. Conventionally, patients with esophageal cancer have to go through a complex surgery involving the removal of the esophagus. Dr.Prasad further added that his team compared surgery to the employment of endoscopic therapy and found that the organ-sparing therapy was equally effectual as surgery in preliminary cancer cases.
During the endoscopic therapy, a scope is introduced inside the esophagus that aids in shaving off the cancerous cells. During the course of this study conducted on 178 patients that had preliminary stage esophageal adenocarcinoma, 132 of those patients underwent endoscopic mucosal resection and 46 patients underwent surgery.
During the endoscopic mucosal resection therapy, the patients went through a procedure wherein a liquid was infused underneath the lesion followed by the use of an endoscope for shaving off the lesions. The other 46 patients that were chosen for surgery underwent the conventional removal of the esophagus.
Both the groups of patients were tracked for a period of nine years with each group having an analogous general death rate of nearly 20%. The cancer relapsed in 12% of patients that underwent endoscopic therapy, but were ably treated by doctors through the endoscopic treatment.
Dr. Prasad elucidated that those patients subsequent to undergoing esophagectomy surgery needed to be hospitalised for a week’s time, with 30-50% of those patients experiencing certain complications following surgery. For instance, those esophagectomy patients had to endure long lasting dietetic restraints. However, endoscopic therapy is conducted on an outpatient basis and the patients could resume eating normal meals in a span of couple of days.
Dr. Kenneth Wang, M.D., gastroenterologist and senior scientist of the study stated that if patients decide to undergo surgery they ideally must opt for high-volume hospitals that have enhanced survival prospects and results for the patients. Dr. Wang further added that future study in this field would encompass examining genetic markers to aid in deciding the superlative line of treatment for esophageal cancer patients. Additionally, the team aims for the imminent usage of endoscopic therapy in later stages of esophageal cancers.