BACKGROUND: Oesophageal cancer is a global heath problem. The prognosis for advanced oesophageal cancer is generally unfavourable, but early-stage asymptomatic oesophageal cancer is basically curable and could achieve better survival rates. The two most commonly used tests are cytologic examination and endoscopy with mucosal iodine staining. The efficacy of the screening tests is controversial, and the true benefit and efficacy of screening remains uncertain because of the potential lead-time and length-time biases. This review was conducted to examine the evidence for the efficacy of screening for oesophageal cancer (squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma). OBJECTIVES: To determine the efficacy of early screening, using endoscopy with iodine staining or cytologic examination, in reducing mortality from oesophageal cancer in asymptomatic individuals from high-risk and general populations. SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (2012, Issue 8), The Cochrane Library (2012, Issue 8), MEDLINE (1950 to August 2012), EMBASE (1980 to August 2012), Allied and Complementary Medicine (AMED) (1985 to August 2012), Chinese Biomedical Database (CBM) (January 1975 to August 2012), VIP Database (January 1989 to August 2012), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) (January 1979 to August 2012), and the Internet. We also searched reference lists, conference proceedings, and databases of ongoing trials. There was no restriction on language or publication status in the search for trials. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included only randomised controlled trials (RCT) of screening versus no screening for oesophageal cancer. Randomisation of groups or clusters of individuals was acceptable. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently scanned the titles and abstracts from the initial search for potential trials for inclusion. We did not find any trials that met the inclusion criteria. MAIN RESULTS: The electronic search identified 3482 studies. Two authors independently reviewed the references. The reports of 18 studies were retrieved for further investigation. None met the eligibility criteria for a RCT investigation of the effects of screening versus no screening for oesophageal cancer. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There were no RCTs that determined the efficacy of screening for oesophageal cancer. Non-RCTs showed a high incidence and the reported better survival after screening could be caused by selection bias, lead-time and length-time biases. RCTs are needed to determine the efficacy of screening for oesophageal cancer.
Yang, S., Wu, S., Huang, Y., Shao, Y., Chen, X. Y., Xian, L., … Yang, C. (2012). Screening for oesophageal cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd007883.pub2