The treatment of cancer of the oesophagus in The General Infirmary at Leeds between the years 1975 and 1988 was reviewed. All cases with histologically proved cancer of the oesophagus were included, data being obtained from case notes, theatre operation books, endoscopy records, pathology records, and the Yorkshire Cancer Registry. Three hundred and sixteen patients were identified. Demographic details, mode of presentation, preoperative investigations, surgical management, methods of palliation, and survival data were entered into a database. The male to female ratio was 3:2 and the median age at presentation was 69 years (range 35-96). Surgical exploration was carried out in 134 of 316 patients (42%). Resection of the tumour, whether curative or palliative, was possible in 106 of 134 patients (79%). Operative (30 day) mortality was 27%. In 22 of 134 patients (16%), only intubation of the tumour was possible, while six patients (5%) had a thoracotomy or laparotomy alone. Median survival of the 106 patients after surgical resection was 292 days (range 0-14.2 years) and seven of them (7%) were still alive five years later. Of the remaining 182 patients (58%) who were not operated upon, 36 patients (11%) had a radical course of radiotherapy with a median survival of 175 days (range 80-453) and 146 patients (46%) either had endoscopic intubation (n = 64) or received no specific treatment (n = 82) with a median survival of 106 days (1-725) and 91 days (1-358) respectively. None of the 182 patients who did not have surgical treatment was alive at five years.
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