What is the prognosis with esophageal cancer?
Most often, esophageal cancer is a treatable disease but not a curable one.
Patients who have severe Barrett's esophagus (some consider this stage T0 or precancerous) and those with few cancer cells tend to have relatively successful outcomes.
The overall five-year survival rate averages between 5%-30%. This is especially low because patients tend to present late in their disease when the cancer has already spread.
Lymph node and other organ involvement markedly lowers survival rate.
There is a better survival rate in patients whose tumors disappeared with radiation and chemotherapy before surgery (three-year survival rate of 48%), as compared to those who had some residual tumor at time of surgery (27%).
The prognoses for squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma are about the same.