Staging esophageal cancer.
Accurate staging of disease is necessary in patients with newly diagnosed esophageal cancer in order to prompt appropriate curative or palliative therapy. Computed tomography (CT) may be used to evaluate for local spread into adjacent structures (T4 disease) and to diagnose distant metastases (M1). Endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) is the modality of choice for distinguishing T1 tumors from higher stage lesions and for detecting and sampling regional lymph nodes (N1 disease). Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is most helpful for detecting previously occult distant metastases. Optimal staging generally requires a multimodality approach.