Early esophageal cancer (EEC) has an excellent prognosis compared to advanced esophageal cancer. Nowadays, endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) may offer another alternative to cure early cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. We aimed to evaluate the clinical outcomes of EEC in Korea after curative treatments; EMR or surgery. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients diagnosed as EEC from January 1994 to August 2005 at Yonsei University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea. Among 888 patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer, 70 (7.9%) were included as EEC. Among them, 10 patients (14.3%) were treated by EMR, and 50 (71.4%) by operation. The treatment outcomes of EEC in relation to various clinicopathologic factors along with survival rates were analyzed. There were 18 cases (30%) of mucosal lesions and 42 cases (70%) of submucosal lesions. Overall 5-year survival rate was 84.3%. When comparing treatment outcomes between EMR-treated and operated groups, there were no significant differences in complete remission (80% vs. 84%), recurrence (20% vs. 16%) and 5-year survival rate (100% vs. 78.3%). EEC is a potentially curable entity with a good clinical prognosis. EMR can be considered as another treatment arm for EEC, along with surgical resection.
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