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Oesophageal cancer staging

Dr Amir Rezaee and Dr Frank Gaillard et al.

Due to the lack of a serosal layer, oesophageal cancer often tends to have mediastinal spread at the time of diagnosis.

Exact staging can vary slightly depending on whether the tumour is squamous cell or adenocarcinoma subtype.

TNM staging

  • T staging
  • N staging
    • Nx: regional nodes cannot be assessed
    • N0: no regional lymph node metastases
    • N1: 1-2  regional nodes involved
    • N2: 3-6 regional nodes involved 
    • N3: >7 regional nodes involved
  • M staging
    • Mx: metastatic disease cannot be assessed
    • M0: no distant metastases
    • M1: distant metastases

AJCC staging groups

Staging is dependent on histological subtype, e.g. squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma. G refers to the grade of tumour and the location is in brackets. As with the TNM classification, X indicates inability to determine grade or location.

Squamous cell carcinoma
Stage 0
  • Tis N0 M0 G1, X
Stage IA
  • T1 N0 M0 G1, X
Stage IB
  • T1 N0 M0 G2-3
  • T2-3 N0 M0 G1,X (lower, X)
Stage IIA
  • T2-3 N0 M0 G1,X (upper, middle)
  • T2-3 N0 M0 G2-3 (lower, X)
Stage IIB
  • T2-3 N0 M0 G2-3 (upper, middle)
  • T1-2 N1 M0
Stage IIIA
  • T1-2 N2 M0
  • T3 N1 M0
  • T4a N0 M0
Stage IIIB
  • T3 N2 M0
Stage IIIC
  • T4a N1-2 M0
  • T4b N- M0
  • T- N3 M0
Stage IV
  • T- N- M1

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