Esophageal cancer (staging)

Esophageal cancer staging uses the international TNM system. The staging can depend slightly on whether the tumor is squamous cell or adenocarcinoma subtype. Due to the lack of a serosal layer, esophageal cancer often tends to have mediastinal spread at the time of diagnosis.


TNM staging 

Staging periodically gets revised - current latest (2019) staging is the - 8th edition AJCC/UICC staging of cancers of the esophagus and esophagogastric junction

  • T staging
  • N staging
    • Nx: regional nodes cannot be assessed
    • N0: no regional lymph node metastases
    • N1: 1-2  regional nodes involved
    • N2: 3-6 regional nodes involved 
    • N3: >7 regional nodes involved
  • M staging
    • Mx: metastatic disease cannot be assessed
    • M0: no distant metastases
    • M1: distant metastases
AJCC staging groups

Staging is dependent on histological subtype, e.g. squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma. G refers to the grade of tumor and the location is in brackets. As with the TNM classification, X indicates inability to determine grade or location.

Squamous cell carcinoma
  • stage 0: Tis N0 M0 G1, X
  • stage I
    • stage Ia: T1 N0 M0 G1, X
    • stage Ib:
      • T1 N0 M0 G2-3
      • T2-3 N0 M0 G1,X (lower, X)
  • stage II
    • stage IIa
      • T2-3 N0 M0 G1,X (upper, middle)
      • T2-3 N0 M0 G2-3 (lower, X)
    • stage IIB
      • T2-3 N0 M0 G2-3 (upper, middle)
      • T1-2 N1 M0
  • stage III
    • stage IIIA
      • T1-2 N2 M0
      • T3 N1 M0
      • T4a N0 M0
    • stage IIIB
      • T3 N2 M0
    • stage IIIC
      • T4a N1-2 M0
      • T4b N- M0
      • T- N3 M0
  • stage IV: T- N- M1
Oesophageal pathology
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Article information

rID: 1766
Section: Staging
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Esophageal cancer staging
  • Staging of oesophageal cancer
  • Staging of esophageal cancer

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: T4N1M1
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    Case 2: adenocarcinoma, T3N1M0
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