Although multidisciplinary treatment has improved the prognosis of esophageal cancer, it is commonly associated with one of the worse prognoses. Since lymph node (LN) metastases can primarily occur from the cervical to the abdominal field, a strategy for extended LN dissection has been established. The three field LN dissection (3FD) during a transthoracic esophagectomy which is defined as a procedure for cervico-thoraco-abdominal LN dissection, was established in the 1980s' in Japan, and is currently widely accepted throughout the world. To date, various comparative trials between 3FD and two field LN dissections (2FD) have been reported and show that a transthoracic esophagectomy with 3FD is superior to 2FD for prognosis. However, in 3FD, postoperative complications, such as recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy and postoperative gastrointestinal dysfunction can be induced. Furthermore, there are few prospective trials that have compared between 2FD and 3FD. Therefore, to determine the ideal range of LN dissection, various factors (e.g., location of the primary tumor, disease progression, tumor histology, and perioperative treatment) must be considered. Recently, the efficacy of intense perioperative treatment for esophageal cancer has been reported, and the significance of minimally invasive surgical procedures are being verified. The ideal combination of perioperative treatment and feasible surgery must be established to improve the oncological outcome of esophageal cancer patients further.
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