The author examines the place of radiotherapy in the management of oesophageal cancer. Many of these tumours are locally curable with radiotherapy. This is so particularly with the proliferative, poorly differentiated tumour. The upper and middle thirds of the oesophagus are the most suitable sites for attempted cure by radiotherapy; surgery is always the better method in the lower third.
Before adopting a definitive treatment policy it is important to eliminate metastatic spread as far as is possible. The overall prognosis is poor: long unnecessary courses of treatment or extensive operations should be avoided unless there is a reasonable chance of long-term cure.
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