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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.

Return to Esophageal Cancer

See what others are saying

Comment from: Queenslander, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: September 02

I was diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer at age 54 in 2009. I was very fit and first symptom was chest pain at the end of 10k run. I went through chemotherapy and radiation well, but became invalid after operation. It took 20 months before I could start exercising and living normally again. Five years on from operation, I'm managing 1k swims 3 times per week + 2-3 runs of 10 to 12k (though time is not what used to be). Tip is to give yourself time to recover from the operation.

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