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The clinical features and treatment modality of esophageal neuroendocrine tumors: a multicenter study in Korea

Chang Geun Lee1, Yun Jeong Lim1*, Seun Ja Park2, Byung Ik Jang3, Seok Reyol Choi4, Jae Kwang Kim5, Yong-Tae Kim6, Joo Young Cho7, Chang Hun Yang1, Hoon Jai Chun8, Si Young Song9 and Neuroendocrine tumor study group

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital, Dongguk University-Seoul, Graduate School of Medicine, Goyang, Korea

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Kosin University College of Medicine, Busan, Korea

3 Department of Internal Medicine, Yeungnam University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea

4 Department of Internal Medicine, Busan Seong-So Hospital, Busan, Korea

5 Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

6 Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

7 Department of Internal Medicine, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

8 Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

9 Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:569  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-569

Published: 7 August 2014



Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) of the esophagus are extremely rare, and few cases have been reported worldwide. Thus, a comprehensive nationwide study is needed to understand the characteristics of and treatment strategy for esophageal NETs.


We collected data on esophageal NET patients from 25 hospitals in Korea from 2002–2012. The incidence, location, clinical symptoms, histopathology, treatment response, and the biochemical, radiologic and endoscopic characteristics of esophageal NETs were surveyed.


Among 2,037 NETs arising in different gastrointestinal sites, esophageal NETs were found in 26 cases (1.3%). The mean patient age was 60.12 ± 9.30 years with a 4:1 male predominance. In endoscopic findings, 76.9% (20/26) of NETs were located in the lower third of the esophagus and the mean size was 2.34 ± 1.63 cm. At diagnosis, more than half the patients (15/26, 57.7%) had regional lymph node metastasis or widespread metastasis. Endoscopic resection was conducted in three cases, and in all three of them, lymph node metastasis was not found and tumor size was below 1.0 cm. All tumors were completely removable through endoscopic procedures and there was no recurrence during the follow-up period. Eighteen other patients received an operation, chemotherapy or both. Among them, nine patients (50.0%) expired because of the progression of their cancer or post-operative complications. In Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, only tumor size (more than 2.0 cm) showed prognostic significance (P = 0.045).


Despite the general assumption that gastrointestinal NETs are benign and slow-growing tumors, the prognosis of advanced esophageal NETs is not favorable.

Esophagus; Neuroendocrine tumor; Treatment; Prognosis