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Module: Carcinoma of the Oesophagus

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A structured approach to the initial assessment of carcinoma of the oesophagus


Peter Devitt
Head, Upper Gastrointestinal Surgical Unit
Royal Adelaide Hospital


Carcinoma of the oesophagus is one of the commonest cancers, lying about seventh on the global ranking.  Over the last three decades there has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of the disease, particularly in western communities.  Newer diagnostic and treatment modalities have had a major impact on diagnosis and management. Staging has become more refined and with current endoscopic techniques, early-stage disease can be managed less aggressively than the heroic surgery of days gone-by.

The cases in this module have been developed to illustrate a number of the issues involved in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, including:
  • epidemiology
  • staging
  • investigation
  • treatment
Underpinning all the high technology that can be brought to bear in the diagnosis and management of carcinoma of the oesophagus, rests the importance of understanding the disease in terms of its anatomy and mode of spread.  This case study focuses on these aspects, concentrating on the importance of a thorough history and physical examination.

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