Stages, types and grades of oesophageal cancer

The stage of oesophageal cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. There are different ways of staging oesophageal cancer. There is the TNM system and the number staging system. This includes 5 stages - stage 0 (high grade dysplasia) to stage 4. 

The type tells you which type of cell the cancer started in and where it began. The grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.

About the stages, types and grades of oesophageal cancer

The stage tells you how big your cancer is and whether it has spread. The grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope. 

TNM staging for oesophageal cancer

Tumour, node and metastasis (TNM) is the most common staging system doctors use for oesophageal cancer.

High grade dysplasia of the oesophagus

High grade dysplasia means there are severely abnormal cells in the inner lining of the oesophagus.

Stage 1 oesophageal cancer

Stage 1 means your cancer hasn’t spread beyond the thick muscle wall of the oesophagus.

Stage 2 oesophageal cancer

Stage 2 means your cancer might have spread as far as the outer layer covering your oesophagus. It might have also spread into 1 or 2 nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 3 oesophageal cancer

Stage 3 cancer might have spread beyond the outer layer of the oesophagus into nearby tissue. And it might have spread to up to 6 nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 4 oesophageal cancer

Stage 4 means your cancer is advanced. It might have spread into other organs or body structures, lymph nodes or to other body parts, such as your lungs or liver.

Last reviewed: 
25 Sep 2023
Next review due: 
25 Sep 2026
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