Esophageal Cancer - Types

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Types of Esophageal Cancer

In 2013, about 18,000 Americans will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

The two most common types are named for how the cancer cells look under a microscope:

  • AC: About 12,000 Americans will be diagnosed with AC (adenocarcinoma) of the esophagus in 2013. In the United States, AC is the most common type of esophageal cancer. Usually, AC tumors are found in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach. AC of the esophagus may be related to having acid reflux (the backward flow of stomach acid), having a disease of the lower esophagus known as Barrett esophagus, or being obese.
  • SCC: About 6,000 Americans will be diagnosed with SCC (squamous cell carcinoma) of the esophagus in 2013. In other parts of the world, SCC is the most common type of esophageal cancer. Usually, SCC tumors are found in the upper part of the esophagus. SCC of the esophagus may be related to being a heavy drinker of alcohol or smoking tobacco.

If you smoke, talk with an expert about quitting. It's never too late to quit. Quitting can help cancer treatments work better. It may also reduce the chance of getting another cancer.

To get help with quitting smoking...

  • Go online to
  • Call NCI's Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).
  • Sign up for the free mobile service SmokefreeTXT to get tips and encouragement to quit. To sign up, text the word QUIT to IQUIT (47848) from your mobile phone. Or, go to Signup.aspx
Return to Esophageal Cancer

See what others are saying

Comment from: Bill, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: November 12

I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer of the esophagus in January 2014. I was lucky as the cancer was in situ and had not spread to other areas. Initially I was put on a neo-SCOPE trial which involved firstly chemotherapy then chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It was very hard and I felt very ill at times. However I knew the cancer was shrinking as I was able to eat again. I underwent major surgery in July which was successful. I am still having pain after eating and have now been prescribed Creon tablets which have helped with the pain but unfortunately have not cured it altogether.

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Comment from: Diane clay, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: November 25

My dad was diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer the Easter of 2013. He had delayed seeing a doctor for almost 11 months as he was so afraid. His first symptoms were pain on swallowing, firstly bread and food getting stuck, then meat would get stuck, and then it turned to all food by the time we got him to hospital. He couldn't swallow his own saliva and had lost four stone in weight. I knew my dad had cancer and short of physically dragging him to a doctor I had tried everything to get him seen. At first they thought they could operate and dad had three cycles of chemotherapy, but first in hospital and tube fed for three weeks. He had a stent put in so he could eat soft food. In September they went in to operate but had seen that the tumor had spread rapidly attached to lung, diaphragm and wrapped round aorta and grown over top of first stent. We were told dad had a few months, then his oncologist offered a different type of chemotherapy to hold the tumor and prolong his life. While he was taking this chemotherapy they discovered dad's tumor was a HER2 tumor and Herceptin, a drug mainly for breast cancer would block the cancer. We were told National Health Service wouldn't fund Herceptin so we were looking into paying for it privately when my dad collapsed and passed away at home. That was exactly a year after his diagnosis. We didn't have a post mortem done. My dad was such a character, a kind heart, he made me laugh so much and I'll never get over losing him. I just wished he would have gone sooner but I can understand how bad his fear was. Esophageal cancer is an evil disease.

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