Screening and prevention strategies and endoscopic management of early esophageal cancer

James A. Kim, Pari M. Shah


Esophageal cancer is the 8th most common cancer worldwide and the 6th most common cause of cancer-related death. Its two main subtypes, esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), have varying incidences globally, but recent decades have seen a demonstrated rise of EAC in Western countries whereas ESCC remains highly prevalent in Eastern Africa, Central Asia, and China. Screening interventions have focused on using endoscopy to identify Barrett’s esophagus (BE) as a precursor to EAC, and squamous cell dysplasia prior to onset of ESCC. However, additional cost-effective screening interventions that can be applied to larger populations at risk for esophageal cancer are needed. Advances in endoscopic ablative techniques and endoscopic resection via endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) have proven to be effective in eradicating dysplasia and early stage cancer. Preventive strategies involving reduction in tobacco and alcohol consumption as well as regular use of proton pump inhibitors and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are aimed at reducing the incidence of dysplasia and esophageal cancer, but require further study before being recommended for widespread use.