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Nodal skip metastasis in thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a cohort study

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Background: Nodal skip metastasis is a prognostic factor in some sites of malignancies, but its role in esophageal cancer is still unclear. The present study aimed to investigate occurrence and effect of nodal skip metastases in thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Methods: All 578 patients undergoing esophagectomy for thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma at the Center for Esophageal Diseases located in Padova between January 1992 and December 2010 were retrospectively evaluated. Selection criteria were R0 resection, pathological M0 stage and pathological lymph node involvement. Patients receiving neoadjuvant therapy were excluded. Results: The selection identified 88 patients with lymph node involvement confirmed by pathological evaluation. Sixteen patients (18.2%) had nodal skip metastasis. Adjusting for the number of lymph node metastases, patient with nodal skip metastasis had similar 5-year overall survival (14% vs. 13%, p = 0.93) and 5-year disease free survival (14% vs. 9%, p = 0.48) compared to patients with both peritumoral and distant lymph node metastases. The risk difference of nodal skip metastasis was: −24.1% (95% C.I.-43.1% to −5.2%) in patients with more than one lymph node metastasis compared to those with one lymph node metastasis; −2.3% (95% C.I.-29.8% to 25.2%) in middle thoracic esophagus and −23.0% (95% C.I.-47.8% to 1.8%) in lower thoracic esophagus compared to upper thoracic esophagus; 18.1% (95% C.I. 3.2% to 33.0%) in clinical N0 stage vs. clinical N+ stage. Conclusions: Nodal skip metastasis is a common pattern of metastatic lymph involvement in thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. However, neither overall survival nor disease free survival are associated with nodal skip metastasis occurrence.




Cavallin, F., Alfieri, R., Scarpa, M., Cagol, M., Ruol, A., Fassan, M., … Castoro, C. (2017). Nodal skip metastasis in thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a cohort study. BMC Surgery, 17(1).

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