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Esophageal cancer

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Survival statistics for esophageal cancer

Survival statistics for esophageal cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for esophageal cancer and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for esophageal cancer is 14%. This means that, on average, about 14% of people diagnosed with esophageal cancer will survive for at least 5 years.

Relative survival

Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of esophageal cancer. The following factors can also affect survival for esophageal cancer.

  • Generally, the earlier esophageal cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
  • Often esophageal cancer is not found until it is at an advanced stage, which can make it more difficult to treat.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of esophageal cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources and may include statistics from other countries.

Esophageal cancer survival
Stage5-year relative survival

Localized (cancer is only in the esophagus)

39%

Regional (cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues)

21%

Distant (cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes or organs)

4%

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of cancer
  • the stage
  • certain characteristics of the cancer
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

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