Surgery has been frequently used to obtain locoregional control and has played a major role in esophageal cancer treatment. Curative resection of the primary lesion needs the removal of the gross lesion itself as well as any possible concomitant spread of the carcinoma. Thoracic esophageal carcinoma is often accompanied by extensive metastasis to the lymph nodes in the cervical, thoracic, and abdominal regions. Because sufficient dissection of the mediastinal lymph nodes is necessary, right thoracotomy and lymph node dissection plus total extirpation of the thoracoabdominal esophagus are generally performed. Transthoracic esophagectomy is one of the most invasive surgeries. Despite substantial advances in preoperative risk evaluation, improved operative techniques, and perioperative management, the risk of morbidity and mortality for esophagectomy remains high. To improve the rate of cure and the quality of life after surgery, more attention should be paid to the individualization of treatment. Sentinel lymph node mapping acquires individual information to allow for adjustments and modifications to surgical procedures for patients. This process might be a procedure that could play a significant role in eliminating the necessity for the uniform application of highly invasive surgery.
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