Oesophageal cancer is a cancer of the food pipe. Find out more about where it starts in the food pipe and how common it is.
The foodpipe is also called the oesophagus or gullet.
The food pipe
The oesophagus is part of the digestive system. It is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.
Where it starts
Cancer can develop in any part of the oesophagus.
Cancers in the upper part and middle part tend to be squamous cell carcinomas. These develop from cells that make up the inner lining of your oesophagus.
Cancers in the lower part of the oesophagus tend to be a type called adenocarcinoma. These cancers start in gland cells.
The lower end of the oesophagus joins the stomach. This area is the gastro oesophageal junction. Cancers that start here are gastro oesophageal junction cancers.
How common it is
Around 8,900 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer each year in the UK. It’s become more common over the last 40 years. It’s the 14th most common cancer in adults.