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Cancer of the Esophagus (cont.)

Esophageal Cancer Prognosis

When the esophageal cancer has spread to organs beyond the esophagus, long-term survival is uncommon.

The chance of recovery improves when doctors detect the cancer at an early stage. Five-year survival can exceed 50% for Stage 1 esophageal cancer. They drop to 20% in Stage 2, 10-15% in Stage 3, but are still essentially zero for Stage 4.

  • Once cancer invades the muscle layer of the esophagus, most people already have developed widespread cancer.
  • For these people, cancers invariably come back following surgical removal. Few people survive long term.
    • Following completion of therapy, whether with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of these, the patient needs regular follow-up endoscopic examinations as well as repeat CT scans of the chest and abdomen.
    • Often, people who undergo surgery of their esophagus develop significant narrowing at the site of the surgery. They require frequent esophageal dilatations or insertion of stents.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/28/2014
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