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Stage 4

Find out what stage 4 oesophageal cancer means and about treatment options.

The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and how far it’s spread. It helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.

Stage 4 means that your cancer is advanced and has spread to other parts of the body, such as your liver or lungs.

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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

In the TNM staging system stage 4 is the same as Any T, Any N, M1.

Treatment

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

You may have either

  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • symptom control eg. treatment to help you swallow food
  • trastuzumab (Herceptin) biological therapy if your cancer is in the gastro oesophageal junction area and has HER2 protein on the cells

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

Information and help

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