Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Font Size

Esophageal Cancer

What Are the Stages of Esophageal Cancer?

The stages of esophageal cancer are given a number (I through IV); the higher the number, the more advanced the cancer. The stages are:

  • Stage 0. Abnormal cells (not yet cancer) are  found only in the layer of cells that line the esophagus.
  • Stage I. Cancer cells are found only in the layer of cells that line the esophagus.
  • Stage II. The cancer has reached the muscle layer or the outer wall of the esophagus. In addition, the cancer may have spread to 1 to 2 nearby lymph nodes (small glands that are part of the immune system).
  • Stage III. The cancer has reached deeper into the inner muscle layer or the connective tissue wall. It may have spread beyond the esophagus into surrounding organ and/or has spread to more lymph nodes near the esophagus.
  • Stage IV. This is the most advanced stage. The cancer has spread to other organs in the body and/or to lymph nodes far from the esophagus.

There are several tests to determine the stage of esophageal cancer, including:

  • Chest X-ray.
  • Bronchoscopy. The trachea (windpipe) and airways are examined with a bronchoscope, a thin, lighted tube that is inserted through the nose or mouth. This test is used to check for cancer involvement in the trachea or branching airways.
  • CT scan. A procedure that creates sharp pictures of the inside of the body.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound, or endosonography. Used during endoscopy, sound waves bounce off organs in the body to create pictures called sonograms. This test can provide more information on the size and extent of the tumor.
  • Thoracoscopy. An endoscope is placed into the chest through an incision to examine the inside of the chest to look for lymph nodes and other chest organs that may have cancer spread. Biopsies can be done during this procedure.
  • Laryngoscopy. A procedure where a doctor uses a mirror or a laryngoscope to examine the larynx (voice box).
  • Laparoscopy. The lighted tube is inserted through an incision in the abdomen to examine the abdominal organs and take tissue samples to check for cancer spread.

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
 
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
 
top foods for probiotics
Slideshow
couple eating at cafe
Article
 
sick child
Slideshow
Woman blowing bubble gum
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Slideshow
Woman with stomach pain
Slideshow
 
diet for diverticulitis
Video
what causes diarrhea
Video