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BACKGROUND—For rectal carcinoma, the presence of tumour within 1 mm of the circumferential margin is an important independent prognostic factor for both local recurrence and survival. Similar prospective data have not been reported for oesophageal carcinoma and we wished to ascertain the prognostic importance of this variable following potentially curative resection for oesophageal carcinoma.
AIM—To prospectively assess the impact of circumferential margin involvement (tumour within 1 mm) following potentially curative resection for oesophageal carcinoma.
PATIENTS AND METHODS—In a prospective study, resection specimens of 135 patients treated with potentially curative oesophageal resection alone were studied for the presence of tumour within 1 mm of the circumferential margin (margin positive), using inked margins and cross sectional slicing of the specimen. All tumours were also staged using the 1987 UICC TNM classification. Patients were followed for a mean of 19 months, and overall and cancer specific survival analysed.
RESULTS—The finding of tumour cells within 1 mm of the circumferential margin (CRM+) was a significant and independent predictor of survival following potentially curative oesophageal resection. Overall, 64 (47%) patients were CRM+. Median survival in this group was 21 months compared with 39 months in the CRM− group (p=0.015). The impact of CRM status on survival was only seen in patients with a low nodal metastatic burden (<25% nodes positive). The odds ratio for the risk of dying from oesophageal cancer was 2.08 when the CRM was involved (p=0.013).
CONCLUSIONS—The presence of tumour within 1 mm of the circumferential margin following potentially curative resection for oesophageal carcinoma is an important independent prognostic variable and should be reported routinely.
Keywords: oesophageal cancer; survival; circumferential resection margin