Key Statistics for Esophageal Cancer

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for esophageal cancer in the United States for 2018 are:

  • About 17,290 new esophageal cancer cases diagnosed (13,480 in men and 3,810 in women)
  • About 15,850 deaths from esophageal cancer (12,850 in men and 3,000 in women)

Esophageal cancer is more common among men than among women. The lifetime risk of esophageal cancer in the United States is about 1 in 132 in men and about 1 in 455 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, but over the past decade they have been decreasing slightly. It is most common in whites, but is now almost equally as common in African Americans. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of cancer of the esophagus among whites, while squamous cell carcinomais more common in African Americans. American Indian/Alaska Natives and Hispanics have lower rates of esophageal cancer, followed by Asians/Pacific Islanders.

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.

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.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

American Cancer Society. Facts & Figures 2018. American Cancer Society. Atlanta, Ga. 2018.

Lifetime Risk (Percent) of Being Diagnosed with Cancer by Site and Race/Ethnicity: Males, 18 SEER Areas, 2012-2014 (Table 1.16)
and Females, 18 SEER Areas, 2012-2014 (Table 1.17)
Accessed on January 3, 2018.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Miller D, Bishop K, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2014, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,, based on November 2016 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2017.

Last Medical Review: June 14, 2017 Last Revised: January 4, 2018

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.