NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,812 terms related to cancer and medicine.

Browse the dictionary by selecting a letter of the alphabet or by entering a cancer-related word or phrase in the search box.

stage III esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
(... ee-SAH-fuh-JEE-ul SKWAY-mus sel KAR-sih-NOH-muh)
Stage III is divided into stages IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC, depending on where the cancer has spread. In stage IIIA, cancer (1) is in the mucosa or submucosa layer and may have spread into the muscle layer of the esophagus wall, and cancer is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor; or (2) has spread into the connective tissue layer of the esophagus wall, and cancer is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor; or (3) has spread into the diaphragm, pleura (tissue that covers the lungs and lines the inner wall of the chest cavity), or sac around the heart. The cancer can be removed by surgery. In stage IIIB, cancer has spread into the connective tissue layer of the esophagus wall. Cancer is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor. In stage IIIC, cancer has spread (1) into the diaphragm, pleura, or sac around the heart. The cancer can be removed by surgery. Cancer is found in 1 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor; or (2) into other nearby organs, such as the aorta, trachea, or spine, and the cancer cannot be removed by surgery; or (3) to 7 or more lymph nodes near the tumor.

EnlargeStage IIIA squamous cell cancer of the esophagus (1); drawing shows the  esophagus and stomach. A two-panel inset shows the layers of the esophagus wall: the mucosa, submucosa, muscle, and connective tissue layers. The left panel shows cancer in the mucosa and submucosa layers and in 3 lymph nodes. The right panel shows cancer in the mucosa, submucosa, muscle, and connective tissue layers and in 1 lymph node.

Stage IIIA squamous cell cancer of the esophagus (1). Cancer is in the mucosa or submucosa layer and may have spread into the muscle layer of the esophagus wall, and cancer is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor; OR cancer has spread into the connective tissue layer of the esophagus wall, and cancer is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor.

EnlargeStage IIIA squamous cell cancer of the esophagus (2); drawing shows the esophagus, trachea, and lung. The top inset shows cancer that has spread from the esophagus into the diaphragm and pleura; the aorta, chest wall, and rib are also shown. The bottom inset shows cancer that has spread from the esophagus into the membrane (sac) around the heart.

Stage IIIA squamous cell cancer of the esophagus (2). Cancer has spread into the (a) diaphragm, (b) pleura (tissue that covers the lungs and lines the inner wall of the chest cavity), or (c) membrane (sac) around the heart. The cancer can be removed by surgery.

EnlargeStage IIIB squamous cell cancer of the esophagus; drawing shows the esophagus and stomach. An inset shows the layers of the esophagus wall with cancer in the mucosa, submucosa, muscle, and connective tissue layers. Also shown is cancer in 4 lymph nodes.

Stage IIIB squamous cell cancer of the esophagus. Cancer has spread into the connective tissue layer of the esophagus wall. Cancer is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor.

EnlargeStage IIIC squamous cell cancer of the esophagus (1); drawing shows the esophagus, trachea, and lung. The top inset shows cancer that has spread from the esophagus into the diaphragm and pleura; the aorta, chest wall, and rib are also shown. The bottom inset shows cancer that has spread from the esophagus into the membrane (sac) around the heart. Also shown is cancer in  lymph nodes near the esophagus.

Stage IIIC squamous cell cancer of the esophagus (1). Cancer has spread into the (a) diaphragm, (b) pleura (tissue that covers the lungs and lines the inner wall of the chest cavity), or (c) membrane (sac) around the heart. The cancer can be removed by surgery. Cancer is found in 1 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor.

EnlargeStage IIIC squamous cell cancer of the esophagus (2); drawing shows cancer that has spread from the esophagus into the trachea, aorta, and spine. Also shown is cancer in lymph nodes near the esophagus.

Stage IIIC squamous cell cancer of the esophagus (2). Cancer has spread into nearby organs, such as the aorta, trachea, or spine, and the cancer cannot be removed by surgery; OR cancer has spread to 7 or more lymph nodes near the tumor.