Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Oesophageal cancer

Oesophageal cancer image

What is oesophageal cancer?

  • The oesophagus is a hollow muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach1
  • Oesophageal cancer starts in the inner layer of the oesophagus and grows into the other layers 1

Types of oesophageal cancer

  • There are 2 main types of oesophageal cancer:
    • Squamous cell carcinoma1
    • Adenocarcinoma1

Who gets oesophageal cancer?

  • Oesophageal cancer mostly affects people over the age of 60 years; the average age at diagnosis is 72 years2
  • It is much more common in males than in females2
  • It is closely related to smoking tobacco and to drinking alcohol; it is very much more likely to develop in people who both smoke and drink heavily2
  • It is the 8th most common cancer worldwide3
  • 456,000 new cases were diagnosed worldwide in 20123

Screening, detection, and diagnosis

  • The 2 most common tests used to diagnose oesophageal cancer are:
    • Endoscopy4
    • Barium swallow4
  • Other tests may include:
    • Imaging tests such as X-ray, CT, and PET4
    • Laparoscopy4

Patient guidelines

A patient guideline is a document containing information for patients and their families about their disease and the treatment options available to them

Click here to see the European patient guideline on your condition5

Local support groups

Contacting a support group may help you during diagnosis and treatment and afterwards


Click here for information on the incidence of oesophageal cancer in Europe6



  1. American Cancer Society. What is cancer of the esophagus?. Accessed November 2015.
  2. NHS Choices. Oesophageal cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  3. NHS Choices. Oesophageal cancer - diagnosis. Accessed November 2015.
  4. World Cancer Research Fund International. Oesophageal cancer statistics. Accessed November 2015.
  5. European Society for Medical Oncology. Oesophageal cancer: a guide for patients. Accessed November 2015.
  6. World Health Organization. Oesophageal cancer. Accessed November 2015.