Background

Patients diagnosed with localised oesophageal and gastric cancer are candidates for curative treatment. In very small early cancers endoscopic treatment may be possible. In the majority however the current standard of care for localised oesophageal and gastric cancer is perioperative chemotherapy and radical surgery to remove the cancer and the associated lymph glands.

Patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer who undergo curative surgery have either an oesophagectomy (removal of the oesophagus), a total gastrectomy (removal of all of the stomach) or subtotal gastrectomy (removal of part of the stomach).

Since 2001, curative treatments for oesophageal and gastric cancer have been centralized at Specialist Cancer Centres. This is because treatment is undertaken using combinations of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy and is organised by multidisciplinary teams. In these teams, surgeons work closely with other clinicians to ensure patients are offered the best combination of treatments. 

The performance of the operation is an area in which teamwork is becoming more common.  Increasingly two trained surgeons operate together due to the complexity of the operations for oesophageal and gastric cancer.

The National Oesophago-Gastric Cancer Audit has been well supported by the multidisciplinary teams across England and Wales since it began in 2008 although because of the voluntary nature of data submission / inclusion it does not have complete data for all patients.