- There were around 8,800 new cases of oesophageal cancer in the UK in 2012, that’s around 24 people every day.
- Oesophageal cancer is the 11th most common cancer in the UK (2012),
- Oesophageal cancer accounts for 3% of all new cases in the UK (2012).
- In men, oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the UK, with around 5,900 cases diagnosed in 2012.
- In women, oesophageal cancer is the 14th most common cancer in the UK, with around 2,900 cases diagnosed in 2012.
- More than 4 in 10 (42%) of cases of oesophageal cancer are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over, and around 95% of cases are diagnosed in those aged 50 and over,
- Since the late-1970s, oesophageal cancer incidence rates have increased by more than two-fifths (43%) in Great Britain.
- Over the last decade, oesophageal cancer incidence rates have remained stable in the UK.
- In Europe, around 45,900 new cases of oesophageal cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012.
- The UK incidence rate is second highest in Europe for males and the highest for females.
- Worldwide, nearly 456,000 new cases of oesophageal cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012, with incidence rates varying across the world.
Oesophageal cancer statistics
New cases of oesophageal cancer, 2012, UK
Deaths from oesophageal cancer, 2012, UK
Survive oesophageal cancer for 10 or more years, 2010-11, England and Wales
Preventable cases of oesophageal cancer, UK
- Oesophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death and accounts for around 5% of all cancer deaths in the UK.
- In 2012, around 7,700 people died from oesophageal cancer in the UK, that is 21 people every day.
- In the UK in 2012, around 5,200 men died from cancer of the oesophagus.
- In 2012, around 2,500 women in the UK died from oesophageal cancer.
- Almost half of oesophageal cancer deaths in the UK occur in the 75s and over.
- Oesophageal cancer mortality rates in men increased by 70% between the early 1970s and their peak in the mid-2000s. Since then, mortality rates in men have fallen slightly.
- Oesophageal cancer mortality rates in women rose by 30% from the early 1970s to their peak in the mid-1990s. Since then, mortality rates in women have fallen by nearly a fifth.
- In Europe, around 39,500 people were estimated to have died from oesophageal cancer in 2012. The UK mortality rate is the highest in Europe for both males and females.
- Worldwide, around 400,000 people were estimated to have died from oesophageal cancer in 2012, with mortality rates varying across the world.
- More than a tenth (12%) of people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for ten years or more (2010-11).
- 3 in 20 (15%) of people/men/women diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for five years or more (2010-11).
- More than 4 in 10 (42%) people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for one year or more (2010-11).
- Oesophageal cancer survival is higher in men than women at one-year, but similar at five- and ten-years.
- Oesophageal cancer survival is highest for people diagnosed under 60 years old.
- Around a fifth of men and more than a quarter of women diagnosed aged 50-59 survive their disease for five years or more, compared with around 5 in 100 people diagnosed aged 80 and over.
- Oesophageal cancer survival is improving and has tripled in the last 40 years in the UK.
- In the 1970s, less than 5 in 100 people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer survived their disease beyond ten years, now it's more than a tenth.
- 89% of oesophageal cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
- A person’s risk of developing oesophageal cancer depends on many factors , including age , genetics , and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
- Oesophageal cancer risk factors vary between adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) , but smoking causes both types.
- Smoking is the main avoidable risk factor for oesophageal cancer, linked to an estimated 66% of oesophageal cancer cases in the UK. Smoking is also related to Barrett’s oesophagus, a precursor for oesophageal AC.
- An estimated 89% of oesophageal cancers in the UK are linked to lifestyle factors including smoking, overweight and obesity (22%), and alcohol (21%).
- Smokeless tobacco, betel quid, and ionising radiation cause oesophageal cancer.
- A diet high in fruit and vegetables may protect against oesophageal cancer – insufficient fruit and vegetables intake is linked to an estimated 46% of oesophageal cancer cases in the UK.
- Certain occupational exposures, meat, and high-temperature drinks may relate to higher oesophageal cancer risk, but evidence is unclear.
- ‘Two-week wait’ referral is the most common route to diagnosis of oesophageal cancer.
- ‘Two-week wait’ standards are met by all countries, ‘31-day wait’ is met by all but Northern Ireland, and ‘62-day wait’ is not met by any country for upper gastrointestinal cancers.
The latest statistics available for oesophageal cancer in the UK are; incidence 2012, mortality 2012 and survival 2010-2011.
European Age-Standardised Rates were calculated using the 1976 European Standard Population (ESP) unless otherwise stated as calculated with ESP2013. ASRs calculated with ESP2013 are not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.
Survival statistics give an overall picture of survival and (unless otherwise stated) include all adults (15-99) diagnosed, at all ages,
Studies which group together the two main morphological types of oesophageal cancer – adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – may be confounded, because there are some aetiological differences between the types. Studies which consider the types separately are used in our risk factors analysis wherever possible.
Routes to diagnosis statistics were calculated from cases of cancer registered in England which were diagnosed in 2006-2010.
Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. Oesophageal cancer is part of the group 'Upper Gastrointestinal cancer' for cancer waiting times data. Codes vary per country but broadly include: oesophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, other and unspecified parts of biliary tract, pancreas, secondary cancers of liver, intrahepatic bile duct and duodenum.
You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK statistics content for your own work.
Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:
Web content: Cancer Research UK, full URL of the page, Accessed [month] [year].
Publications: Cancer Research UK ([year of publication]), Name of publication, Cancer Research UK.