Esophagus Cancer

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What Is Esophagus Cancer? TOPICS

What are the key statistics about cancer of the esophagus?

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for esophageal cancer in the United States for 2016 are:

  • About 16,910 new esophageal cancer cases diagnosed (13,460 in men and 3,450 in women)
  • About 15,690 deaths from esophageal cancer (12,720 in men and 2,970 in women)

This disease is 3 to 4 times more common among men than among women. The lifetime risk of esophageal cancer in the United States is about 1 in 125 in men and about 1 in 435 in women. (See the next section for risk factors that can affect these chances.)

Overall, the rates of esophageal cancer in the United States have been fairly stable for many years. It was once much more common in African Americans than in whites. But it is now about equally as common, as rates have fallen in African Americans and gone up slightly in whites over the past few decades. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer of the esophagus among African Americans, while adenocarcinoma is more common in whites.

Esophageal cancer makes up about 1% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States, but it is much more common in some other parts of the world, such as Iran, northern China, India, and southern Africa. The main type of esophageal cancer in these areas is squamous cell carcinoma.

Although many people with esophageal cancer will go on to die from this disease, treatment has improved and survival rates are getting better. During the 1960s and 1970s, only about 5% of patients survived at least 5 years after being diagnosed. Now, about 20% of patients survive at least 5 years after diagnosis. This number includes patients with all stages of esophageal cancer. Survival rates for people with early stage cancer are higher. For more information on survival, see “Survival rates for cancer of the esophagus by stage.”

Visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.

Last Medical Review: 03/20/2014
Last Revised: 02/04/2016