Esophageal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year. You will read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

This year, an estimated 16,940 adults (13,360 men and 3,580 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The disease accounts for 1% of cancers diagnosed in the United States. It is diagnosed more often in other parts of the world.

It is estimated that 15,690 deaths (12,720 men and 2,970 women) from this disease will occur this year. Esophageal cancer is the seventh most common cause of cancer death among men.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with esophageal cancer is 18%. 

However, survival rates depend on several factors, including the stage of the cancer when it is first diagnosed. The 5-year survival rate of people with cancer located only in the esophagus is 41%. The 5-year survival rate for those with disease that has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes is 23%. If it has spread to distant parts of the body, the survival rate is 5%.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with esophageal cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. People should talk with their doctor if they have questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2017, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.