What is oesophageal cancer?

Oesophageal cancer is a cancer of the food pipe. The food pipe is also called the oesophagus or gullet and is part of the digestive system.

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer can include difficulty swallowing, indigestion or heartburn and weight loss. 

Getting diagnosed with oesophageal cancer

You usually start by seeing your GP. They might refer you to a specialist and organise tests. 

Survival for oesophageal cancer

Survival depends on many factors including the stage and type of your oesophageal cancer. 

Treatment for oesophageal cancer

You might have surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy or a combination of these treatments. This depends on a number of factors including the stage and type of your oesophageal cancer. 

Stages, types and grades of oesophageal cancer

The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. It helps your doctor to know which treatment you need.

Advanced oesophageal cancer

Advanced oesophageal cancer means that a cancer that began in the food pipe (oesophagus) has spread to another part of the body.

Research and clinical trials for oesophageal cancer

Research trials aim to find out if new treatments are safe and better than those currently available for oesophageal cancer.

Living with oesophageal cancer

There is support available to help you cope during and after oesophageal cancer treatment. This includes diet tips to help you eat well.

Risks and causes of oesophageal cancer

Factors that increase the risk of oesophageal cancer include being older or overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol, and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. 

Last reviewed: 
27 Sep 2023
Next review due: 
28 Sep 2026