Introduction: The 5-year survival rate after resection of oesophageal cancer is still poor, reported to be between 5% to 34% in the literatures. We conducted this retrospective study to determine the prognostic factors and long-term survival rate for surgical resection of oesophageal carcinoma in Singapore.Materials and Methods: Sixty-seven consecutive patients who underwent surgical resection of oesophageal carcinoma from January 1989 to December 1996 were reviewed. Results: Majority of the patients were Chinese (94%), males (81%) with a history of dysphagia (96%), cigarette smoking (84%) and alcohol ingestion (58%). The median age at surgery was 63.6 (range 29 to 81) years. Sixty-four patients had squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus and 3 patients had adenocarcinoma. The lower one-third of the oesophagus was the most common site (48.6%) followed by the middle third (46%). Postoperative complications included pneumonia (43.3%), vocal cord paralysis/ paresis (19.4%) and anastomotic leakage (17.9%). Thirty-day postoperative mortality was 7.5%. There was an almost equal number of patients undergoing transhiatal (34 patients) and transthoracic approach (33 patients). There was no significant difference in postoperative complications and survival outcome for both approaches. The median survival was 15.3 months after surgery. Tumour features such as depth of involvement and TNM stage were useful in predicting survival (P <0.05, log-rank test). Conclusions: We conclude that the poor outcome of surgical resection (5-year survival rate was 18% by Kaplan-Meier survival plots) was mainly attributed to late presentation (80% patients had T3 or T4 tumour).
Although the incidence of oesophageal carcinoma is declining, it still remains a common cancer in Singapore. From 1988 to 1992, it was the ninth most common cancer in males (age-standardised rate, 8.9 per 100,000).
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