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Stage 2

Find out what stage 2 oesophageal cancer means and about treatment options.

Stage 2 is part of the number system and is divided into 2A and 2B.

Stage 2A

Stage 2A means the cancer has grown into the covering of the outside of the oesophagus, there is no evidence it is has spread elsewhere.



Stage 2B

Stage 2B means the cancer has grown no further than the muscle layer but has spread into 1 or 2 nearby lymph nodes, there is no evidence it is has spread elsewhere.


TNM stages

The TNM staging system stands for Tumour, Node, Metastasis.

  • T describes the size of the tumour
  • N describes whether there are any cancer cells in the lymph nodes
  • M describes whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body

Stage 2A is the same as T3, N0, M0 in the TNM staging system.

Stage 2B is the same as T1 or 2, N1, M0.


The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • where the cancer is 
  • other health conditions that you have

If you're fit enough for surgery

Your fitness for surgery depends on your general health and how well you are likely to recover.

Before surgery, you'll have either:

You then have surgery to remove part or all of your oesophagus.

You may also have chemotherapy or more rarely chemoradiation after your operation to lower the chances of the cancer coming back.

Treatment for cancers in the upper part of the oesophagus is usually chemoradiation alone, without surgery.

If you aren't having surgery

Other health problems may mean you can’t have surgery, or you may decide you don’t want it. You will have tests to check how fit you are before you have any treatment including heart and lung tests.

Treatments include:

About other stages

Last reviewed: 
06 Jul 2016
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (7th edition)
    American Joint Committee on Cancer, Springer, 2010

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser D
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2014

  • ESMO, oesophageal cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    Ann Oncol. 2013 Oct;24 Suppl 6:vi51-6.

  • Principles and practice of oncology (9th edition)
    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2011

  • TNM Classification of Malignant Tumours (7th edition) International Union Against Cancer
    LH Sobin, MK Gospodarowicz, CH Wittekind
    John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2009

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