Statistics at a Glance

At a Glance

Estimated New Cases in 2018 17,290

% of All New Cancer Cases 1.0%

Estimated Deaths in 2018 15,850

% of All Cancer Deaths 2.6%

Percent Surviving
5 Years

19.2% 2008-2014
Year New Cases - SEER 9 New Cases - SEER 13 Deaths - U.S. Percent Surviving 5 Years - SEER 9
1975 4.1 - 3.7 4.0%
1976 4.3 - 3.7 5.0%
1977 4.1 - 3.7 5.9%
1978 4.1 - 3.8 4.5%
1979 4.4 - 3.8 4.8%
1980 4.3 - 3.8 5.6%
1981 4.1 - 3.8 6.6%
1982 4.3 - 3.8 7.3%
1983 4.3 - 3.9 6.0%
1984 4.2 - 3.9 9.3%
1985 4.5 - 3.9 8.6%
1986 4.6 - 3.9 10.5%
1987 4.5 - 4.0 8.5%
1988 4.4 - 4.0 9.8%
1989 4.4 - 4.1 9.8%
1990 4.8 - 4.1 10.0%
1991 4.6 - 4.1 11.8%
1992 4.6 4.4 4.2 14.8%
1993 4.6 4.6 4.2 11.9%
1994 4.5 4.3 4.3 12.6%
1995 4.4 4.4 4.3 11.6%
1996 4.8 4.6 4.3 15.0%
1997 4.7 4.5 4.3 12.4%
1998 4.7 4.5 4.4 12.6%
1999 4.9 4.7 4.3 17.4%
2000 4.8 4.5 4.4 18.9%
2001 4.8 4.6 4.4 17.9%
2002 4.6 4.4 4.4 16.8%
2003 4.6 4.4 4.4 17.2%
2004 5.3 5.0 4.4 20.2%
2005 4.6 4.3 4.4 18.9%
2006 4.7 4.3 4.4 20.0%
2007 4.7 4.3 4.3 21.7%
2008 4.7 4.3 4.2 18.8%
2009 4.6 4.4 4.2 20.7%
2010 4.4 4.2 4.3 22.4%
2011 4.4 4.2 4.2 -
2012 4.4 4.0 4.1 -
2013 4.3 4.0 4.0 -
2014 4.2 3.9 4.0 -
2015 4.4 4.0 4.0 -

Number of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000: The number of new cases of esophageal cancer was 4.2 per 100,000 men and women per year. The number of deaths was 4.0 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2011-2015 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 2013-2015 data.

Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2015, there were an estimated 47,284 people living with esophageal cancer in the United States.

Survival Statistics

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

Relative survival 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.

19.2%

Percent Surviving
5 Years

19.2%

Based on data from SEER 18 2008-2014. Gray figures represent those who have died from esophageal cancer. Green figures represent those who have survived 5 years or more.

Additional Information

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, 18.9% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year survival for localized esophageal cancer is 45.2%.

Percent of Cases & 5-Year Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis: Esophageal Cancer
Stage Percent of Cases 5-Year Relative Survival
Localized
Confined to Primary Site
19% 45.2%
Regional
Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
32% 23.6%
Distant
Cancer has Metastasized
39% 4.8%
Unknown
Unstaged
10% 12.0%

SEER 18 2008-2014, All Races, Both Sexes by SEER Summary Stage 2000

Additional Information

Number of 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
Cases 2018
Estimated
Deaths 2018
1. Breast Cancer (Female) 266,120 40,920
2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 234,030 154,050
3. Prostate Cancer 164,690 29,430
4. Colorectal Cancer 140,250 50,630
5. Melanoma of the Skin 91,270 9,320
6. Bladder Cancer 81,190 17,240
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 74,680 19,910
8. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 65,340 14,970
9. Uterine Cancer 63,230 11,350
10. Leukemia 60,300 24,370
- - -
18. Esophageal Cancer 17,290 15,850

Esophageal cancer represents 1.0% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.

1.0%

In 2018, it is estimated that there will be 17,290 new cases of esophageal cancer and an estimated 15,850 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 number of new cases of esophageal cancer was 4.2 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2011-2015 cases.

Number of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Esophageal Cancer
Males
All Races 7.2
White 7.7
Black 6.4
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.3
American Indian/Alaska Native 5.1
Hispanic 4.7
Non-Hispanic 7.5
Females
All Races 1.7
White 1.7
Black 2.2
Asian/Pacific Islander 0.9
American Indian/Alaska Native 1.4
Hispanic 1.1
Non-Hispanic 1.8

SEER 18 2011-2015, Age-Adjusted

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Esophageal Cancer
Age Range Percent of New Cases
<20 0.0%
20-34 0.4%
35-44 1.9%
45-54 10.4%
55-64 27.1%
65-74 30.6%
75-84 21.2%
>84 8.5%

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

Median Age
At Diagnosis

68

SEER 18 2011-2015, All Races, Both Sexes

Who Dies From This Cancer?

Esophageal cancer is the eleventh leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The number of deaths was 4.0 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2011-2015 deaths.

Number of Deaths per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Esophageal Cancer
Males
All Races 7.2
White 7.6
Black 5.8
Asian/Pacific Islander 2.8
American Indian/Alaska Native 5.9
Hispanic 3.9
Non-Hispanic 7.5
Females
All Races 1.5
White 1.5
Black 1.8
Asian/Pacific Islander 0.7
American Indian/Alaska Native 1.6
Hispanic 0.8
Non-Hispanic 1.5

U.S. 2011-2015, Age-Adjusted

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Esophageal Cancer
Age Range Percent of Deaths
<20 0.0%
20-34 0.3%
35-44 1.6%
45-54 9.2%
55-64 25.3%
65-74 29.5%
75-84 23.0%
>84 11.1%

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

Median Age
At Death

69

U.S. 2011-2015, All Races, Both Sexes

Trends in Rates

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 1.2% each year over the last 10 years. Death rates have been falling on average 0.9% each year over 2006-2015. 5-year survival trends are shown below.

More About This Cancer

Cancer and the Esophagus

Figure: Anatomy of the Digestive System

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.

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 and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Most can be found within:

Noone AM, Howlader N, Krapcho M, Miller D, Brest A, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2015, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2015/, based on November 2017 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2018.

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 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 the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. 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 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. 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.