Low prevalence of incidentally discovered and early-stage esophageal cancers in a 30-year autopsy study
Autopsy studies provide information that may guide future patient management. This study analyzed autopsy findings in patients with esophageal cancers, with emphasis on the prevalence of incidentally diagnosed esophageal cancer, histologic subtypes, early-stage lesions, and any associated pathology. Autopsies detected 346 patients (306 men; 40 women) with esophageal carcinomas during a 30-year period, constituting an overall prevalence of 3.4%. Out of these patients, 30 (8.7%) were incidentally discovered at autopsy. Squamous cell cancers were found in 336 (97.1%) patients, small cell cancers in nine (2.7%), and adenocarcinomas in one (0.3%). Stage distributions were stage I in seven patients (2%), stage II in 49 (14%), stage III in 121 (35%), and stage IV in 169 (49%). Isolated dysplasia or carcinoma-in-situ were not found. Comparing with symptomatic patients, patients with incidental cancers were older, had higher frequency of small cell carcinomas, and lower T-stage. The prevalence of incidentally diagnosed esophageal carcinomas and early-stage carcinomas were low. Unusual histologic subtypes may be found.
Diseases of the Esophagus