Oesophageal cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of oesophageal cancer, 2013, UK

Deaths

Deaths from oesophageal cancer, 2014, UK

Survival

Survive oesophageal cancer for 10 or more years, 2010-11, England and Wales

Prevention

Preventable cases of oesophageal cancer, UK

  • There were around 8,800 new cases of oesophageal cancer in the UK in 2013, that’s 24 cases diagnosed every day.
  • Oesophageal cancer is the 13th most common cancer in the UK (2013).
  • Oesophageal cancer accounts for 2% of all new cases in the UK (2013).
  • In males in the UK, oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer, with around 5,900 cases diagnosed in 2013.
  • In females in the UK, oesophageal cancer is the 13th most common cancer, with around 2,900 cases diagnosed in 2013.
  • Almost 6 in 10 (57%) oesophageal cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 70 and over (2011-2013).
  • Since the late 1970s, oesophageal cancer incidence rates have increased by more than two-fifths (43%) in Great Britain. The increase is larger in males where rates have increased by almost three-fifths (56%), than in females where rates have decreased by less than a tenth (5%).
  • Over the last decade, oesophageal cancer incidence rates have remained stable in the UK, though this includes a small decrease in females (5%) and stable rates in males.
  • Most oesophageal cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage.
  • Most oesophageal cancers occur in the lower third of the oesophagus.
  • 1 in 55 men and 1 in 115 women will be diagnosed with oesophageal cancer during their lifetime.
  • Oesophageal cancer in England is more common in people living in the most deprived areas.
  • Oesophageal cancer is more common in White people than Asian or Black people.
  • In the UK around 10,700 people were still alive at the end of 2006, up to ten years after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.
  • 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.

See more in-depth oesophageal cancer incidence statistics

  • There were around 7,800 oesophageal cancer deaths in the UK in 2014, that’s 21 deaths every day.
  • Oesophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK (2014).
  • Oesophageal cancer accounts for 5% of all cancer deaths in the UK (2014).
  • In males in the UK, oesophageal cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death, with around 5,200 deaths in 2014.
  • In females in the UK, oesophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death, with around 2,600 deaths in 2014.
  • Almost half (48%) of oesophageal cancer deaths in the UK each year are in people aged 75 and over (2012-2014).
  • Mortality rates for oesophageal cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 90+ (2012-2014).
  • Since the early 1970s, oesophageal cancer mortality rates have increased by almost a half (46%) in the UK. The increase is larger in males (60%), than in females (12%).
  • Over the last decade, oesophageal cancer mortality rates have decreased by almost a tenth (8%) in the UK, The decrease is similar in males (7%) and females (12%).
  • Oesophageal cancer deaths in England are more common in people living in the most deprived areas.
  • 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.

See more in-depth oesophageal cancer mortality statistics

  • 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 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.
  • Almost a fifth of men and more than a quarter of women in England diagnosed with oesophageal cancer aged 50-59 survive their disease for five years or more, compared with around 5 in 100 people diagnosed aged 80 and over (2009-2013).
  • 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.

See more in-depth oesophageal cancer survival statistics

  • A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
  • 89% of oesophageal cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk 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.

See more in-depth oesophageal cancer risk factors

  • 'Two-week wait' is the most common route to diagnosing 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.
  • Around 3 in 20 oesophageal cancer patients receive major surgical resection as part of their cancer treatment.
  • Almost 9 in 10 patients had a ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ patient experience.
  • Almost 95% of patients are given the name of their Clinical Nurse Specialist.

See more in-depth oesophageal cancer diagnosis and treatment statistics

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The latest statistics available for oesophageal cancer in the UK are; incidence 2013, mortality 2014 and survival 2010-2011 (all ages combined) and 2009-2013 (by age).  

The ICD code Open a glossary item for oesophageal cancer is ICD-10 C15.

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.

Lifetime risk estimates were calculated using incidence, mortality, population and all-cause mortality data for 2012.

Survival statistics give an overall picture of survival and (unless otherwise stated) include all adults (15-99) diagnosed, at all ages, stage Open a glossary item and co-morbidities Open a glossary item. The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics.

Meta-analyses Open a glossary item and systematic reviews Open a glossary item are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and most take study quality into account. Individual case-control and cohort studies Open a glossary item are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

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 2012-2013.

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.

Cancer surgical resection rates data is for patients diagnosed in England between 2006 and 2010.

Patient Experience data is for adult patients in England with a primary diagnosis of cancer, who were in active treatment between September and November 2013 and who completed a survey in 2014.

Deprivation gradient statistics were calculated using incidence data for three time periods: 1996-2000, 2001-2005 and 2006-2010 and for mortality for two time periods: 2002-2006 and 2007-2011. The 1997-2001 mortality data were only used for the all cancers combined group as this time period includes the change in coding from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The deprivation quintiles were calculated using the Income domain scores from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) from the following years: 2004, 2007 and 2010. Full details on the data and methodology can be found in the Cancer by Deprivation in England NCIN report.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland  Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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