SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Esophageal Cancer

Mortality and lifetime risk have not been updated to include 2011 data (view details).

Statistics at a GlanceShow More

At a Glance

  • Estimated New Cases in 2014 18,170
  • % of All New Cancer Cases1.1%
  • Estimated Deaths in 2014 15,450
  • % of All
    Cancer Deaths
    2.6%

Percent Surviving
5 Years

17.5% 2004-2010

Number of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000: The number of new cases of esophageal cancer was 4.4 per 100,000 men and women per year. The number of deaths was 4.3 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2007-2011 cases and 2006-2010 deaths.

Lifetime Risk of Developing Cancer: Approximately 0.5 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2008-2010 data.

Prevalence of this cancer: In 2011, there were an estimated 34,551 people living with esophageal cancer in the United States.

Survival StatisticsShow More

How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More after Being Diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer?

Relative survivalExternal Web Site Policy statistics compare the survival of patients diagnosed with cancer with the survival of people in the general population who are the same age, race, and sex and who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly.

17.5%

Percent Surviving
5 Years

17.5%

Based on data from SEER 18 2004-2010. Gray figures represent those who have died from esophageal cancer. Green figures represent those who have survived 5 years or more.

Additional Information

Cancer stage at diagnosis, which refers to extent of a cancer in the body, determines treatment options and has a strong influence on the length of survival. In general, if the cancer is found only in the part of the body where it started it is localized (sometimes referred to as stage 1). If it has spread to a different part of the body, the stage is regional or distant. The earlier esophageal cancer is caught, the better chance a person has of surviving five years after being diagnosed. For esophageal cancer, 21.3% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year survival for localized esophageal cancer is 39.6%.

Percent of Cases & 5-Year Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis: Esophageal Cancer
Percent of Cases by Stage
  • Localized (21%)
    Confined to Primary Site
  • Regional (30%)
    Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
  • Distant (37%)
    Cancer Has Metastasized
  • Unknown (11%)
    Unstaged
21% localized; 30% regional; 37% distant; 11% unknown
5-Year Relative Survival
39.6% localized; 21.1% regional; 3.8% distant; 11.5% unstaged

SEER 18 2004-2010, All Races, Both Sexes by SEER Summary Stage 2000

Additional Information

Number of New Cases and DeathsShow More

How Common Is This Cancer?

Compared to other cancers, esophageal cancer is relatively rare.

Common Types of Cancer Estimated New
Cases 2014
Estimated
Deaths 2014
1. Prostate Cancer 233,000 29,480
2. Breast Cancer (Female) 232,670 40,000
3. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 224,210 159,260
4. Colon and Rectum Cancer 136,830 50,310
5. Melanoma of the Skin 76,100 9,710
6. Bladder Cancer 74,690 15,580
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 70,800 18,990
8. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 63,920 13,860
9. Thyroid Cancer 62,980 1,890
10. Endometrial Cancer 52,630 8,590
- - -
18. Esophageal Cancer 18,170 15,450

Esophageal cancer represents 1.1% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.

1.1%

In 2014, it is estimated that there will be 18,170 new cases of esophageal cancer and an estimated 15,450 people will die of this disease.

Esophageal cancer is more common in men than women, and it is associated with older age, heavy alcohol use and tobacco use. The number of new cases of esophageal cancer was 4.4 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2007-2011 cases.

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Esophageal Cancer
0.0% under 20; 0.3% 20-34; 2.0% 35-44; 11.7% 45-54; 27.2% 55-64; 27.7% 65-74; 22.6% 75-84; 8.5% 85 and older

Esophageal cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 65-74.

Median Age
At Diagnosis

67

SEER 18 2007-2011, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Esophageal Cancer
MalesFemales
  • Male 7.7All RacesFemale 1.8
  • Male 8.0WhiteFemale 1.7
  • Male 7.9BlackFemale 2.6
  • Male 3.7Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 1.0
  • Male 4.8American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 1.9
  • Male 5.3HispanicFemale 1.1
  • Male 8.0Non-HispanicFemale 1.9

SEER 18 2007-2011, Age-Adjusted

Esophageal cancer is the tenth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The number of deaths was 4.3 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2006-2010 deaths.

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Esophageal Cancer
0.0% under 20; 0.2% 20-34; 1.7% 35-44; 10.6% 45-54; 24.7% 55-64; 27.4% 65-74; 24.9% 75-84; 10.4% 85 and older

The percent of esophageal cancer deaths is highest among people aged 65-74.

Median Age
At Death

69

U.S. 2006-2010, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of Deaths per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Esophageal Cancer
MalesFemales
  • Male 7.6All RacesFemale 1.6
  • Male 7.8WhiteFemale 1.6
  • Male 7.7BlackFemale 2.1
  • Male 3.1Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 0.8
  • Male 6.1American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 1.6
  • Male 4.3HispanicFemale 0.8
  • Male 7.9Non-HispanicFemale 1.7

U.S. 2006-2010, Age-Adjusted

Trends in RatesShow More

Changes Over Time

Keeping track of the number of new cases, deaths, and survival over time (trends) can help scientists understand whether progress is being made and where additional research is needed to address challenges, such as improving screening or finding better treatments.

Using statistical models for analysis, rates for new esophageal cancer cases have been falling on average 1.0% each year over 2002-2011. Death rates have been falling on average 0.6% each year over 2001-2010. 5-year survival trends are shown below the figure.

More About This CancerShow More

Cancer and the Esophagus

Gastrointestinal (digestive) system anatomy; shows esophagus, liver, stomach, large intestine, and small intestine.
Figure: Anatomy of the Digestive System
Click to enlarge.

Esophageal cancer starts at the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the other layers as it grows. The two most common forms of esophageal cancer are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma that forms in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells lining the esophagus. This cancer is most often found in the upper and middle part of the esophagus, but can occur anywhere along the esophagus. This is also called epidermoid carcinoma.
  • AdenocarcinomaExternal Web Site Policy that begins in glandular (secretory) cells. Glandular cells in the lining of the esophagus produce and release fluids such as mucus. Adenocarcinomas usually form in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach.

Additional Information

More Information

Here are some resources for learning more about esophageal cancer.

References

All statistics in this report are based on statistics from SEER and the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics. Most can be found within:

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Garshell J, Neyman N, Altekruse SF, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Cho H, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2011, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2011/, based on November 2013 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2014.

Suggested Citation

All material in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated.

SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Esophageal Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/esoph.html

This factsheet focuses on population statistics that are based on the US population. Because these statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. To see tailored statistics, browse the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. To see statistics for a specific state, go to the State Cancer ProfilesExternal Web Site Policy.

The statistics presented in this factsheet are based on the most recent data available, most of which can be found in the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. In some cases, different year spans may be used. Estimates for the current year are based on past data.

Cancer is a complex topic. There is a wide range of information available. This factsheet does not address causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or decision making, although it provides links to information in many of these areas.