Statistics at a Glance

At a Glance

Estimated New Cases in 2020 18,440

% of All New Cancer Cases 1.0%

Estimated Deaths in 2020 16,170

% of All Cancer Deaths 2.7%

5-Year
Relative Survival

19.9% 2010–2016
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
1975 4.14 4.16 - - 3.69 3.68 4.07% 4.49%
1976 4.30 4.19 - - 3.74 3.71 5.09% 4.80%
1977 4.06 4.21 - - 3.70 3.73 6.03% 5.13%
1978 4.12 4.23 - - 3.79 3.76 4.53% 5.47%
1979 4.42 4.25 - - 3.76 3.79 4.89% 5.83%
1980 4.27 4.28 - - 3.85 3.81 5.61% 6.20%
1981 4.14 4.30 - - 3.82 3.84 6.65% 6.59%
1982 4.26 4.32 - - 3.84 3.87 7.41% 6.99%
1983 4.29 4.35 - - 3.85 3.89 6.14% 7.41%
1984 4.18 4.37 - - 3.93 3.92 9.50% 7.84%
1985 4.45 4.39 - - 3.86 3.95 8.56% 8.29%
1986 4.64 4.42 - - 3.94 3.98 10.69% 8.75%
1987 4.54 4.44 - - 3.97 4.00 8.54% 9.23%
1988 4.43 4.46 - - 4.05 4.03 9.99% 9.72%
1989 4.40 4.49 - - 4.11 4.06 9.87% 10.23%
1990 4.82 4.51 - - 4.10 4.09 10.06% 10.75%
1991 4.56 4.54 - - 4.13 4.12 11.83% 11.29%
1992 4.60 4.56 4.45 4.69 4.17 4.15 14.95% 11.84%
1993 4.61 4.59 4.56 4.66 4.19 4.18 12.09% 12.40%
1994 4.50 4.61 4.29 4.63 4.27 4.21 12.74% 12.98%
1995 4.36 4.63 4.36 4.60 4.26 4.24 11.71% 13.57%
1996 4.80 4.66 4.62 4.57 4.31 4.27 15.34% 14.17%
1997 4.69 4.68 4.50 4.54 4.25 4.30 12.52% 14.79%
1998 4.73 4.71 4.52 4.52 4.36 4.33 12.71% 15.42%
1999 4.93 4.74 4.73 4.49 4.35 4.36 17.44% 16.06%
2000 4.78 4.76 4.50 4.46 4.39 4.39 19.11% 16.72%
2001 4.82 4.79 4.63 4.43 4.43 4.42 17.88% 17.38%
2002 4.63 4.81 4.37 4.41 4.41 4.45 16.88% 17.80%
2003 4.65 4.84 4.39 4.38 4.38 4.48 17.34% 18.22%
2004 5.31 4.86 4.96 4.35 4.36 4.43 20.37% 18.64%
2005 4.63 4.81 4.33 4.33 4.44 4.39 19.00% 19.07%
2006 4.74 4.76 4.34 4.30 4.41 4.34 20.22% 19.50%
2007 4.71 4.71 4.33 4.27 4.27 4.30 21.91% 19.94%
2008 4.67 4.66 4.33 4.25 4.22 4.25 18.89% 20.38%
2009 4.64 4.61 4.43 4.22 4.18 4.21 20.90% 20.82%
2010 4.41 4.57 4.16 4.20 4.26 4.17 22.67% 21.27%
2011 4.44 4.52 4.17 4.17 4.15 4.13 19.03% 21.72%
2012 4.39 4.47 4.03 4.14 4.11 4.08 20.75% 22.17%
2013 4.35 4.42 4.02 4.12 4.02 4.04 - 22.62%
2014 4.24 4.38 3.93 4.09 3.99 4.00 - 23.08%
2015 4.45 4.33 4.04 4.07 3.97 3.96 - 23.55%
2016 4.33 4.29 3.94 4.04 3.94 3.92 - 24.01%
2017 4.38 4.24 3.94 4.02 3.81 3.88 - 24.48%

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 4.3 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 2013–2017 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 2015–2017 data.

Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2017, there were an estimated 47,690 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 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.

19.9%

5-Year
Relative Survival

19.9%

Based on data from SEER 18 2010–2016. 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, 17.9% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year relative survival for localized esophageal cancer is 47.1%.

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
18% 47.1%
Regional
Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
33% 25.2%
Distant
Cancer Has Metastasized
39% 4.9%
Unknown
Unstaged
10% 12.8%

SEER 18 2010–2016, 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
Cases 2020
Estimated
Deaths 2020
1. Breast Cancer (Female) 276,480 42,170
2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 228,820 135,720
3. Prostate Cancer 191,930 33,330
4. Colorectal Cancer 147,950 53,200
5. Melanoma of the Skin 100,350 6,850
6. Bladder Cancer 81,400 17,980
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 77,240 19,940
8. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 73,750 14,830
9. Uterine Cancer 65,620 12,590
10. Leukemia 60,530 23,100
- - -
18. Esophageal Cancer 18,440 16,170

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

1.0%

In 2020, it is estimated that there will be 18,440 new cases of esophageal cancer and an estimated 16,170 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 4.3 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2013–2017 cases, age-adjusted.

Rate of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Esophageal Cancer
Males
All Races 7.3
White 7.8
Black 6.1
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.7
American Indian/Alaska Native 6.2
Hispanic 4.8
Non-Hispanic 7.6
Females
All Races 1.7
White 1.8
Black 2.0
Asian/Pacific Islander 1.0
American Indian/Alaska Native 1.8
Hispanic 1.1
Non-Hispanic 1.8

SEER 21 2013–2017, 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 1.8%
45–54 9.3%
55–64 26.9%
65–74 32.1%
75–84 20.7%
>84 8.8%

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

Median Age
At Diagnosis

68

SEER 21 2013–2017, 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 2013–2017 deaths, age-adjusted.

Death Rate per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Esophageal Cancer
Males
All Races 7.0
White 7.4
Black 5.3
Asian/Pacific Islander 2.8
American Indian/Alaska Native 6.2
Hispanic 3.7
Non-Hispanic 7.4
Females
All Races 1.4
White 1.4
Black 1.6
Asian/Pacific Islander 0.7
American Indian/Alaska Native 1.3
Hispanic 0.7
Non-Hispanic 1.5

U.S. 2013–2017, Age-Adjusted

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Esophageal Cancer
Age Range Percent of Deaths
<20 0.0%
20–34 0.3%
35–44 1.5%
45–54 8.2%
55–64 25.0%
65–74 31.2%
75–84 22.6%
>84 11.3%

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

Median Age
At Death

69

U.S. 2013–2017, 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 the last 10 years. Age-adjusted death rates have been falling on average 1.0% each year over 2008–2017. 5-year relative survival trends are shown below.

Interactive Statistics with SEER*Explorer

With SEER*Explorer, you can...
  • 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: 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:

Howlader N, Noone AM, 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, 1975–2017, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2017/, based on November 2019 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2020.

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 of new cases and deaths for 2020 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.