Caustic ingestion and oesophageal cancer: Intra- and peri-tumoral fibrosis is associated with a better prognosis

Alberto Ruol, Sabrina Rampado, Anna Parenti, Giuseppe Portale, Luciano Giacomelli, Giorgio Battaglia, Matteo Cagol, Ermanno Ancona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Oesophageal carcinoma is a well-known late complication of caustic ingestion, occurring in up to 7% of cases. We report a large series of patients with oesophageal scar cancer (SC), investigating the association between fibrosis and survival. Methods: A total of 25 patients with a history of oesophageal SC (1979-2005) were retrospectively studied. The amount of intra- and peri-tumoral fibrotic tissue was measured with Azan-Mallory staining. A control group of patients with non-SC was used for comparison. Results: Twenty-five patients (16 males:9 females, median age 59 years), presented with SC. The histotype was squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in 20 (80%) patients, adenocarcinoma (AC) in three (12%) and verrucous carcinoma in two (8%). Oesophageal resection was performed in 17 of 25 (68%) patients; in eight (32%), only a palliative treatment (endoscopic/surgical) was possible. Mortality and morbidity rates were 4% and 40%, respectively. One-, 3- and 5-year overall actuarial survival rates for SC patients were 72%, 56% and 52%, respectively. The amount of fibrotic tissue around/within the tumour was significantly higher in SC patients (34.5% vs 5.9% non-SC, p= 0.01); these patients had also a higher prevalence of tumours limited to the muscular wall (pT1-T2) (76% vs 28% non-SC, p<0.0001) and less lymph node metastases in T1-T2 cases (8% vs 34% non-SC, p= 0.07). The 5-year survival was significantly better in SC patients: 71% versus 24% for resected cancers (p<0.0001), and 52% versus 15% for all observed patients (p= 0.0001). Conclusions: The presence of fibrotic tissue around/within the tumour is associated with a better prognosis in SC. Fibrosis might offer a protection against both local spread and nodal dissemination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-664
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Caustic ingestion
  • Fibrosis
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Oesophagectomy
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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