Improving the quality of pretreatment staging in patients with esophageal carcinoma - a fast track study

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Background. Current guidelines for esophageal cancer recommend series of diagnostic investigations to determine pretreatment TNM stage. When investigations are done sequentially, diagnostic work-up time may be prolonged considerably. Aim of the study was to determine the feasibility and efficacy of a fast track staging strategy within five days after the first consultation. Material and methods. Between 2007 and 2010 all patients presenting with esophageal cancer at the Department of Gastroenterology in a tertiary referral center were prospectively analyzed. At Day 1 all patients underwent computed tomography (CT), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and ultrasonography of the neck (US). Results and treatment implications were discussed within a multidisciplinary meeting. This fast track strategy was considered completed successfully if pretreatment TNM classification was achieved and therapy was proposed to the patient at the outpatient clinic at day five. In those cases where staging period time was prolonged, the number and type of additional tests were documented including the ensuing time delay. Results. In 111 patients CT, EUS and US were performed in 100%, 88.3% and 97.3% respectively. A final TNM stage and treatment proposal was reached at Day 5 in 60% of the patients. Additional tests were diverse and mainly used to prove local irresectabilty or presence of distant metastasis. Multivariate analysis identified presence of lymphadenopathy (HR 0.25 p = 0.03) and metastasis (HR 0.27 p = 0.03) as significant predictors of not completing the staging period within five days. In 18% of patients overuse of at least one test occurred, most commonly because CT already revealed distant metastasis. Conclusion. Employment of a fast track five day staging strategy in patients with esophageal carcinoma is feasible. Definite TNM stage and treatment proposal can be achieved in 60% of cases, but comes at the expense of test overuse in about one fifth of patients.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)362-367
Number of pages6
JournalActa Oncologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Research programs

  • EMC MM-03-47-02-A
  • EMC MM-04-20-01

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