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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 16 (2002), Issue 11, Pages 807-811
Brief Communication

Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis Secondary to Gastroesophageal Adenocarcinoma: A Case Report and Review of the Literature

Ayman A Abdo,1 Sylvain Coderre,2 and Ronald J Bridges2

1University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Received 10 June 2002; Accepted 4 September 2002

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC) is a rare metastatic complication of solid tumours. It has been mainly described in association with breast cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.

CASE PRESENTATION: A patient presenting with progressive solid food dysphagia with documented adenocarcinoma of the lower esophagus and gastroesophageal junction is reported. One month after the initial diagnosis, the patient developed gradual onset of increasing headache and progressive decrease in the level of consciousness. Computed tomography of the head showed evidence of meningeal enhancement, and cerebrospinal fluid examination showed the presence of adenocarcinoma cells, making the diagnosis of LC. The patient died one month after LC was diagnosed.

DISCUSSION: LC is a poor prognostic sign in solid organ malignancies. It usually presents with headache, altered level of consciousness and focal neurological deficits. Diagnosis is established by finding malignant cells in the cerebrospinal fluid and supported by marked meningeal enhancement on computed tomography of the brain. A review of the English literature found only three reported cases of LC secondary to esophageal malignancy.

CONCLUSION: A case of LC complicating esophageal and gastroesophageal junction malignancy is described. A high index of suspicion and early diagnosis may influence the poor outcome of these patients.