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Oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer-related death in the world. In 2012

  • 456,000 new cases were  reported which was 3% of all cancers
  • 400,000 deaths were reported

Epidemiology of the two main subtypes of oesophageal cancer varies according to the region

  • a very high incidence of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is reported in
    • “Asian esophageal cancer belt”, which encompasses Turkey, northeastern Iran, Kazakhstan, and northern and central China - with more than 100 cases per 100 000 population annually
    • southern and eastern Africa
  • prevalence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma is increasing in some Asian countries e.g. - Singapore (1,2)

Incidence of oesophageal cancer is increasing throughout the world.

  • incidence of SSC remains stable or declined in the Western countries whilst the incidence of adenocarcinoma has risen more rapidly
    • specially seen in white men
      • in the USA, from 1975 to 2004, age-adjusted incidence of oesophageal carcinoma in white men increased from 5·76 to 8·34 per 100 000 person-years, largely due to 463% increase in oesophageal adenocarcinoma.
  • the UK has the highest reported incidence worldwide (2,3)
  • it is rare in young people and the incidence increases with age, peaking in the seventh and eighth decade of life (4)

In the UK:

  • there were around 8,900 new cases of oesophageal cancer in 2014, that’s 24 cases diagnosed every day
  • is the 14th most common cancer (2014)
  • 7790 deaths were reported in 2014
  • more common in males than females
    • 1 in 55 men and 1 in 115 women will be diagnosed with oesophageal cancer during their lifetime.
  • is more common in White people than Asian or Black people
  • age-specific incidence rates rise sharply from around age 45-49 years, with the highest rates in the 90+ age group (5)
    • incidence rates are higher for males than females from age 30-34, with no significant differences at younger ages
    • gap is widest at the ages of 40-44, when the male:female ratio of age-specific incidence rates (to account for the different proportions of males to females in each age group) is around 37:10
  • most oesophageal cancers occur in the lower third of the oesophagus.
  • is more common in people living in the most deprived areas (5)


Last reviewed 01/2018