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Esophageal Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Summary of Evidence

Note: Separate PDQ summaries on Esophageal Cancer Prevention, Esophageal Cancer Treatment, and Levels of Evidence for Cancer Screening and Prevention Studies are also available.


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Based on fair evidence, screening would result in no (or minimal) decrease in mortality from esophageal cancer in the U.S. population.

Description of the Evidence

  • Study Design: Evidence from cohort or case-control studies.
  • Internal Validity: Fair.
  • Consistency: Multiple studies.
  • Magnitude of Effects on Health Outcomes: Small positive.
  • External Validity: Poor.


Based on solid evidence, screening would result in uncommon but serious side effects associated with endoscopy which may include perforation, cardiopulmonary events and aspiration, and bleeding requiring hospitalization. Potential psychological harms may occur in those identified as having Barrett esophagus who may consider themselves to be ill even though their risk of developing cancer is low.

Description of the Evidence

  • Study Design: Evidence obtained from cohort or case-control studies.
  • Internal Validity: Fair.
  • Consistency: Multiple studies, large number of participants.
  • Magnitude of Effects on Health Outcomes: Fair evidence for no reduction in mortality; good evidence for uncommon but serious harms.
  • External Validity: Poor.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: September 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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