Esophageal Cancer Prognosis


Esophageal cancer develops when the DNA of the cells undergo oxidative damage. The cells start multiplying autonomously and uncontrollably, and a tumor mass develops.

The cancer is categorized in to 2 types - squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. In squamous cell carcinoma, the upper part of the esophagus near the mouth is affected, whereas, in adenocarcinoma, the lower part of the tube, near the stomach, gets affected.

Understanding Esophageal Cancer Prognosis

Esophageal cancer prognosis is largely dependent upon the stage at which the tumor is identified, the location and spread of the cancer, age of the patient and the general health condition.

In the preliminary stages of the disease, i.e. stages 0 - 3, the spread of the tumor may be limited, through surgery and chemo-radiotherapy. But stage 4 is irreversible, since metastasis or spread to distant organs has taken place.

Early diagnosis of the cancer plays a very crucial role in increasing the chances of survival and determining esophageal cancer prognosis.

On the whole, esophageal cancer prognosis is not very good, particularly for stage 4. This is primarily due to the fact that the symptoms of esophageal cancer are somewhat obscure in the beginning, making diagnosis difficult. Diagnosis is often made at an advanced stage, when metastasis has already occurred. By the time the patient complains about dysphasia or difficulty in swallowing, the cancer has progressed considerably.

Esophageal cancer stages 0 - 3 are clinically seen as metastasis to the surrounding lymph nodes and adjacent organs. In stage 4, the cancer cells spread throughout the body, even to distant organs. Consequently, stage 4 esophageal cancer prognosis is relatively poor.

The survival rate of the patient also depends up the stage of the cancer. The overall survival rate for esophageal cancer is less than 20%.

Patients with cancer restricted to the esophageal mucosa have 80% 5 year survival rate, those with spread to adjacent structures have 7% 5 year survival rate, while, the survival rate for the stage 4 is less than 5%.

Once the diagnosis is made, therapy is started promptly. The patient is put on to medications, and an-easy-to swallow-and-digest diet plan, comprising of soups, porridge, juices, yogurt, barley water, and purees. Nutritional supplements are prescribed to maintain the overall health and provide the daily nutritional requirement. The physician decides on the most appropriate line of treatment, which may consist of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.