Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

What You Need To Know Aboutâ„¢

Cancer of the Esophagus

  • Posted: 04/04/2013

Stages

Doctors describe the stages of esophageal cancer using the Roman numerals I, II, III, and IV. Stage I is early-stage cancer, and Stage IV is advanced cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver.

The stage of cancer of the esophagus depends mainly on...

  • How deeply the tumor has invaded the wall of the esophagus
  • The tumor's location (upper, middle, or lower esophagus)
  • Whether esophageal cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body

Stages I and II of Adenocarcinoma of the Esophagus

Stage IA
Cancer has grown through the inner layer and invades the wall of the esophagus. The grade is 1 or 2.

Stage IB
Cancer has invaded the wall of the esophagus and is grade 3. Or, cancer has invaded more deeply into the muscle layer of the esophagus, and the grade is 1 or 2.

Stage IIA
Cancer has invaded the muscle layer of the esophagus, and the grade is 3.

Stage IIB
Cancer has invaded the outer layer of the esophagus. Or, cancer has not invaded the outer layer, but cancer cells are also found in one or two nearby lymph nodes.

Stages I and II of Squamous Cell Cancer of the Esophagus

Stage IA
Cancer has grown through the inner layer and invaded the wall of the esophagus. The grade is 1.

Stage IB
Cancer has invaded the wall of the esophagus and is grade 2 or 3. Or, cancer is found in the lower part of the esophagus, it has invaded the muscle layer or outer layer of the esophagus, and the grade is 1.

Stage IIA
Cancer is found in the upper or middle part of the esophagus, it has invaded the muscle layer or outer layer of the esophagus, and the grade is 1. Or, cancer is found in the lower part of the esophagus, it has invaded the muscle layer or outer layer of the esophagus, and the grade is 2 or 3.

Stage IIB
Cancer is found in the upper or middle part of the esophagus, it has invaded the muscle layer or outer layer of the esophagus, and the grade is 2 or 3. Or, cancer has not invaded the outer layer, and cancer cells are found in one or two nearby lymph nodes.

Stages III and IV of Esophageal Cancer (Both Types)

Stage IIIA

Stage IIIA is one of the following:

  • Cancer has not invaded the outer layer, and cancer cells are found in 3 to 6 nearby lymph nodes.
  • Or, cancer has invaded the outer layer of the esophagus, and cancer cells are also found in 1 or 2 nearby lymph nodes.
  • Or, cancer extends through the esophageal wall and has invaded nearby tissues, such as the diaphragm or pleura. No cancer cells are found in lymph nodes.

Stage IIIB
Cancer has invaded the outer layer of the esophagus, and cancer cells are found in 3 to 6 nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IIIC
Stage IIIC is one of the following:

  • Cancer has invaded tissues near the esophagus, and cancer cells are found in up to 6 nearby lymph nodes.
  • Or, cancer cells are found in 7 or more nearby lymph nodes.
  • Or, the cancer can't be removed by surgery because the tumor has invaded the trachea or other nearby tissues.

Stage IV
The esophageal cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.