Statistics at a Glance
At a Glance
Estimated New Cases in 2021 19,260
% of All New Cancer Cases 1.0%
Estimated Deaths in 2021 15,530
% of All Cancer Deaths 2.6%
|Year||Rate of New Cases — SEER 9||Rate of New Cases — SEER 13||Death Rate — U.S.||5-Year Relative Survival — SEER 9|
|Observed||Modeled Trend||Observed||Modeled Trend||Observed||Modeled Trend||Observed||Modeled Trend|
New cases come from SEER 13. Deaths come from U.S. Mortality.
All Races, Both Sexes. Rates are Age-Adjusted.
Modeled trend lines were calculated from the underlying rates using the Joinpoint Trend Analysis Software.
New cases are also referred to as incident cases in other publications. Rates of new cases are also referred to as incidence rates.
Rate of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000: The rate of new cases of esophageal cancer was 4.2 per 100,000 men and women per year. The death rate was 3.9 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2014–2018 cases and 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 2016–2018 data.
Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2018, there were an estimated 49,450 people living with esophageal cancer in the United States.
How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More after Being Diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer?
Relative survival is an estimate of the percentage of patients who would be expected to survive the effects of their cancer. It excludes the risk of dying from other causes. 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.
Based on data from SEER 18 2011–2017. Gray figures represent those who have died from esophageal cancer. Green figures represent those who have survived 5 years or more.
Survival by Stage
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, 17.5% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year relative survival for localized esophageal cancer is 46.4%.
|Stage||Percent of Cases||5-Year Relative Survival|
Confined to Primary Site
Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
Cancer Has Metastasized
SEER 18 2011–2017, All Races, Both Sexes by SEER Summary Stage 2000
New Cases and Deaths
How Common Is This Cancer?
Compared to other cancers, esophageal cancer is relatively rare.
|Rank||Common Types of Cancer||Estimated New
|1.||Breast Cancer (Female)||281,550||43,600|
|3.||Lung and Bronchus Cancer||235,760||131,880|
|5.||Melanoma of the Skin||106,110||7,180|
|8.||Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer||76,080||13,780|
Esophageal cancer represents 1.0% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.
In 2021, it is estimated that there will be 19,260 new cases of esophageal cancer and an estimated 15,530 people will die of this disease.
Who Gets This Cancer?
Esophageal cancer is more common in men than women, and it is associated with older age, heavy alcohol use and tobacco use. The rate of new cases of esophageal cancer was 4.2 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2014–2018 cases, age-adjusted.
|American Indian/Alaska Native||6.4|
|American Indian/Alaska Native||1.7|
SEER 21 2014–2018, Age-Adjusted
|Age Range||Percent of New Cases|
Esophageal cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 65–74.
SEER 21 2014–2018, All Races, Both Sexes
Who Dies From This Cancer?
Esophageal cancer is the eleventh leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The death rate was 3.9 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2014–2018 deaths, age-adjusted.
|American Indian/Alaska Native||5.9|
|American Indian/Alaska Native||1.3|
U.S. 2014–2018, Age-Adjusted
|Age Range||Percent of Deaths|
The percent of esophageal cancer deaths is highest among people aged 65–74.
U.S. 2014–2018, All Races, Both Sexes
Trends in Rates
Changes Over Time
Keeping track 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, age-adjusted rates for new esophageal cancer cases have been falling on average 1.0% each year over 2009–2018. Age-adjusted death rates have been falling on average 1.2% each year over 2009–2018. 5-year relative survival trends are shown below.
Interactive Statistics with SEER*Explorer
- Create custom graphs and tables
- Download data and images
- Share links to results
SEER*Explorer is an interactive website that provides easy access to a wide range of SEER cancer statistics. It provides detailed statistics for a cancer site by gender, race, calendar year, age, and for a selected number of cancer sites, by stage and histology.Explore Additional Esophageal Cancer Statistics
More About This Cancer
Cancer and the Esophagus
Figure: Gastrointestinal (digestive) system anatomy; shows esophagus, liver, stomach, large intestine, and small intestine.
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.
- Adenocarcinoma 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.
Here are some resources for learning more about esophageal cancer.
- About risk factors for esophageal cancer
- About symptoms and diagnosis of esophageal cancer
- About treatment options for esophageal cancer
- About clinical trials
- About cancer prevention
All statistics in this report are based on statistics from SEER and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Most can be found within SEER*Explorer.
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 Stat Facts: Esophageal Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/esoph.html
These stat facts focus on population statistics that are based on the U.S. 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 SEER*Explorer. To see statistics for a specific state, go to the State Cancer Profiles.
The statistics presented in these stat facts are based on the most recent data available, most of which can be found in SEER*Explorer. In some cases, different year spans may be used.
Estimates of new cases and deaths for 2021 are projections made by the American Cancer Society (ACS), based on earlier reported data.
Cancer is a complex topic. There is a wide range of information available. These stat facts do not address causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or decision making, although links are provided to information in many of these areas.