If esophageal cancer is diagnosed, the doctor needs to know the stage, or extent, of the disease to plan the best treatment. Staging is a careful attempt to find out whether the cancer has spread, and if so, to what parts of the body.
Stages of Esophageal Cancer
Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ)
- In stage 0, abnormal cells are found in the innermost layer of tissue lining the esophagus. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ
- In stage I, cancer has formed and spread beyond the innermost layer of tissue to the next layer of tissue in the wall of the esophagus.
- This stage is divided into stage IIA and stage IIB, depending on where the cancer has spread.
: Cancer has spread to the layer of esophageal muscle or to the outer wall of the esophagus.
: Cancer may have spread to any of the first three layers of the esophagus and to nearby lymph nodes.
- In this stage, cancer has spread to the outer wall of the esophagus and may have spread to tissues or lymph nodes near the esophagus.
- This stage is divided into stage IVA and stage IVB, depending on where the cancer has spread
Cancer has spread to nearby or distant lymph nodes
Cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes and/or organs in other parts of the body.
Knowing the stage assists the doctor in determining a prognosis. It also better helps you understand the care and treatment that will be required.