Cancer of the esophagus is not a rare disease. McCrae in 5,480 necropsies found twenty-nine cases of cancer of the esophagus. It ranks high in the general cancer incidence; only uterine, mammary and gastric cancer exceed it in frequency. It is not an aggressive type of malignancy; on the contrary, it is a mild, slow and for a long time purely local process. These ideal conditions for surgical cure render important the query that is the title of this article.
The answer is not far to seek. If we open any textbook on medicine and surgery we find the answer in the means employed for the diagnosis of esophageal disease. These means are the traditions perpetuated in the textbooks from a bygone age when all diagnoses were inferential, not objective.
DIAGNOSTIC METHODS IN THE TEXTBOOKS
The diagnostic methods given, first or exclusively, in the textbooks are faulty for the following