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Esophageal cancer staging is used to indicate the size and extent of a patient’s cancer. It can also help determine which treatments will be recommended; because of this, it’s typically done before the first course of therapy.

To assess the stage of a cancerous esophageal tumor, physicians will often rely on tests that were completed during diagnosis. First, they’ll look at the imaging scans to see how large the tumor is and whether it has invaded local lymph nodes or other organs. From there, they’ll look at biopsy results to see how the cells appear under a microscope.

Using this information, a physician will determine where the tumor falls within the esophageal cancer staging system, which classifies tumors as follows:

  • Stage 0, which is not true cancer, but rather abnormal cells (high-grade dysplasia) that could develop into esophageal cancer.
  • Stage I, in which the cells have already become cancerous and have grown into the deeper layers of the esophageal wall.
  • Stage II, in which the cancer has progressed into the main muscular layer of the esophagus.
  • Stage III, in which the cancer is present in the outer layer of the esophagus (not just the esophageal wall) or has started to grow into the lymph nodes or nearby organs.
  • Stage IV, in which the cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes or distant organs.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we understand that esophageal cancer staging is just one factor that should be considered when creating a patient’s treatment plan. Every patient is seen by our multispecialty team of experts, and a tumor board collectively evaluates each patient’s case to determine which treatments are most appropriate for his or her specific needs. 

No referral is required to meet with our skilled oncologists. To schedule a time to discuss esophageal cancer staging and treatment with a member of our team, call 1-888-663-3488, or use our convenient online form.