Advertisement

What are the types of esophageal cancer?

There are two main types of esophageal cancer. Both types are diagnosed, treated, and managed in similar ways.

The two most common types are named for how the cancer cells look under a microscope. Both types begin in cells in the inner lining of the esophagus:

Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus: This type is usually found in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach. In the United States, adenocarcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer. It's been increasing since the 1970s. Squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus: This type is usually found in the upper part of the esophagus. This type is becoming less common among Americans. Around the world, however, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type.

This Answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Daniel Labow, MD
Surgical Oncology
There are two main types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. At one time, squamous cell carcinoma was by far the more common of the two cancers, and was once responsible for almost 90 percent of all esophageal cancers. However, more recent medical studies show that squamous cell cancers make up only about 50 percent of esophageal cancers today. Since the entire esophagus is normally lined with squamous cells, squamous cell carcinoma can occur anywhere along the length of the esophagus.

The other common type of esophageal cancer, adenocarcinoma, starts in glandular tissue, which normally does not cover the esophagus. Before an adenocarcinoma can develop, glandular cells must replace an area of squamous cells, for example as in Barrett's esophagus.

Continue Learning about Esophageal Cancer

Aspirin Therapy to Prevent Gastrointestinal Cancers
Aspirin Therapy to Prevent Gastrointestinal Cancers
Acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin, is commonly used to reduce fevers and inflammation, and relieve minor aches and pains. For some people,...
Read More
Why do people refuse surgery for esophageal cancer?
The Society of Thoracic SurgeonsThe Society of Thoracic Surgeons
It is hard to know why people refuse surgery for esophageal cancer and what factors affect their dec...
More Answers
What is the rate of incidence for esophageal cancer?
James Rosser, MDJames Rosser, MD
Esophageal cancer is the most rapidly increasing cancer in the United States. It is up 600-750% sinc...
More Answers
What Can Happen If GERD Is Untreated?
What Can Happen If GERD Is Untreated?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.