Decorative image

Survival

Find out about survival for oesophageal cancer.

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with oesophageal cancer. It depends on your individual condition, type of oesophageal cancer, treatment and level of fitness.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

If the cancer hasn't spread

Around 40 out of 100 people (40%) live for 5 years or more if the cancer is only in the oesophagus.

Between 30 and 40 out of 100 people (30 to 40%) with localised oesophageal cancer can have treatment to try to cure it. These treatments include chemoradiation on its own, and surgery with or without chemotherapy beforehand.

The treatment outcome varies slightly for the different types of oesophageal cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma

In people who had treatment to try to cure squamous cell cancer about
  • 75 out of 100 (75%) survived for 1 year or more after diagnosis
  • 50 out of 100 (50%) survived for 2 years or more
  • 40 out of 100 people (40%) survived for 3 years or more

Adenocarcinoma

In people who had treatment to try to cure adenocarcinoma about
  • 80 out of 100 (80%) survived for 1 year or more after diagnosis
  • 60 out of 100 people (60%) survived for 2 years or more
  • 50 out of 100 people (50%) survived for 3 years or more

If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes

Around 21 out of 100 people (21%) live for 5 years or more if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Advanced oesophageal cancer

Advanced cancer means it has spread to another part of the body. Most people with advanced oesophageal cancer live for between 3 to 12 months after their cancer is diagnosed. Around 4 out of 100 people (4%) live for 5 years or more.

Overall survival statistics

Generally for people with oesophageal cancer about
  • 40 out of every 100 (40%) will survive for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed
  • 15 out of every 100 (15%) will survive for 5 years or more
  • 12 out of 100 (12%) will survive for 10 years or more

What affects survival

Your outlook depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

The type of cancer and grade of the cancer cells can also affect your likely survival. Grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.

Your general health and fitness also affect survival because overall, the fitter you are, the better you may be able to cope with your cancer and treatment.

About these statistics

No UK-wide statistics are available for different stages of oesophageal cancer or individual treatments.

These statistics are taken from various sources. They include the opinions and experience of the experts who check Cancer Research UK's patient information.

Statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients. They can’t predict exactly what will happen to you. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

More statistics

For more in-depth information about survival and oesophageal cancer, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

Last reviewed: 
05 May 2016
  • Cancer Statistics in the UK
    Cancer research UK

  • Survival rates for cancer of the esophagus by stage
    USA National Cancer Institute

  • National Oesophago Gastric Cancer Audit 2012
    The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 2012

  • National Oesophago Gastric Cancer Audit 2014
    The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 2014

  • Personal communication with Cancer Research UK specialist advisers regarding survival in advanced cancer (September 2015)

Information and help

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.​