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May 1956

Cancer of the Esophagus

AMA Arch Surg. 1956;72(5):756-763. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1956.01270230020003

Carcinoma of the esophagus was considered beyond the scope of surgical cure until 1913, when Franz Torek1 reported the first successful esophagectomy with anterior esophagostomy for malignancy of the thoracic esophagus. It was not until 1938 that Adams and Phemister2 reestablished the continuity of the gastrointestinal tract following an esophagectomy by performing a transthoracic esophagogastrostomy. The glow of enthusiasm following these technical advances has diminished somewhat in recent years in the light of impartial analysis of survival statistics, and today there is outright skepticism from many quarters as to the plausibility of surgical cure of carcinonma of the esophagus. The few patients who are alive and well several years after their expected deaths and the larger number who have been made more comfortable by the procedure provide sufficient stimulus for some surgeons to continue recommending the surgical approach. The greater number of patients who have not survived a