prognosis of oesophageal cancer

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The prognosis for oesophageal carcinoma is dependent on the site of the tumour. Approximate 5-year survival figures are:

  • upper third tumours have a 20% 5-year survival
  • middle third tumours have a 6% 5-year survival
  • lower third tumours have a 15% 5-year survival

The prognosis also depends on:

  • tumour size and site
  • depth of invasion
  • node metastases
  • widespread metastases
  • tumour grade
  • lymphocytic response
  • general health of the patient

Population based cohort studies have reported a minor improvement of the overall prognosis in oesophageal cancer patients during the past 20 years (1)

  • in the USA overall 5-year survival rate for patients with oesophageal adenocarcinoma is slightly higher (17%) than in squamous cell carcinoma (2)
  • in England and Wales 
    • more than a tenth (12%) of people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for ten years or more (2010-11)
    • 3 in 20 (15%) of people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for five years or more (2010-11)
    • more than 4 in 10 (42%) people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for one year or more (2010-11)
    • oesophageal cancer survival is higher in men than women at one-year, but similar at five- and ten-years
      • oesophageal cancer survival falls only slightly beyond five years after diagnosis, which means most patients can be considered cured after five years
        • 12% of men and 13% of women are predicted to survive their disease for ten years or more, as shown by age-standardised net survival for patients diagnosed with oesophageal cancer during 2010-2011 in England and Wales
        • out of 20 common cancers in England and Wales, ten-year survival for oesophageal cancer ranks 3rd lowest overall.
    • almost a fifth of men and more than a quarter of women in England diagnosed with oesophageal cancer aged 50-59 survive their disease for five years or more, compared with around 5 in 100 people diagnosed aged 80 and over (2009-2013). Oesophageal cancer survival is improving and has tripled in the last 40 years in the UK
    • in the 1970s, less than 5 in 100 people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer survived their disease beyond ten years, now it's more than a tenth

 

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Last edited 05/2019 and last reviewed 06/2021