Computed tomography overestimation of esophageal tumor length: Implications for radiotherapy planning.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Karim Sillah
  • Luke R Williams
  • Hans-Ulrich Laasch
  • Azeem Saleem
  • Gillian Watkins
  • Susan A Pritchard
  • Patricia M Price
  • Ian M Welch


AIM: To assess the relationship between preoperative computed tomography (CT) and postoperative pathological measurements of esophageal tumor length and the prognostic significance of CT tumor length data. METHODS: A retrospective study was carried out in 56 patients who underwent curative esophagogastrectomy. Tumor lengths were measured on the immediate preoperative CT and on the post-operative resection specimens. Inter- and intra-observer variations in CT measurements were assessed. Survival data were collected. RESULTS: There was a weak correlation between CT and pathological tumor length (r = 0.30, P = 0.025). CT lengths were longer than pathological lengths in 68% (38/56) of patients with a mean difference of 1.67 cm (95% CI: 1.18-2.97). The mean difference in measurements by two radiologists was 0.39 cm (95% CI: -0.59-1.44). The mean difference between repeat CT measured tumor length (intra-observer variation) were 0.04 cm (95% CI: -0.59-0.66) and 0.47 cm (95% CI: -0.53-1.47). When stratified, patients not receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy showed a strong correlation between CT and pathological tumor length (r = 0.69, P = 0.0014, n = 37) than patients that did (r = 0.13, P = 0.43, n = 19). Median survival with CT tumor length > 5.6 cm was poorer than with smaller tumors, but the difference was not statistically significant. CONCLUSION: Esophageal tumor length assessed using CT does not reflect pathological tumor extent and should not be the only modality used for management decisions, particularly for planning radiotherapy.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2010