The staging system for esophageal cancer conforms with the Tumor, Node, Metastasis System of the American Joint Committee on Cancer.

Stages of the tumor:

  • T1: The tumor is only in lining of the esophagus.
  • T2: The tumor has moved into the layer of muscles in the esophageal wall.
  • T3: The tumor has advanced through the entire esophageal wall.
  • T4: The tumor has affected nearby tissues.
    • Stages of spread to lymphatic system:

      • NX: Doctors cannot determine if cancer extends to nearby lymph nodes.
      • N0: Cancer has not extended to nearby lymph nodes.
      • N1: Cancer has extended to nearby lymph nodes.

      Metastasis The lymphatic system can transport cancer cells to distant parts of the body, where they can grow into new tumors. This is the process of metastasis. Another aspect of staging classifies cancers based on the extent to which they have metastasized:

      • MX: Doctors cannot determine if metastasis has taken place.
      • M0: Metastasis has not taken place.
      • M1: Metastasis has taken place.

      Stage Groupings

      • Stage I: T1 N0 M0
      • Stage IIA: T2 N0 M0 or T3 N0 M0
      • Stage IIB: T1 N1 M0 or T2 N1 M0
      • Stage III: T3 N1 M0 or T4 any N M0
      • Stage IV: any T any N M1

      Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

      Published: 14 Aug 1999

      Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015