Esophageal and esophagogastric junction squamous cell carcinoma (staging)

Last revised by Mohammad Taghi Niknejad on 2 Mar 2024

Esophageal and esophagogastric junction squamous cell carcinoma staging refers to TNM staging of squamous cell carcinoma originating in the esophagus or esophagogastric junction (including tumors whose center is within the proximal 2 cm of the gastric cardia).

Related histologies included in this system are high grade squamous intraepithelial neoplasia (dysplasia), basaloid squamous cell carcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma, spindle cell (squamous) carcinoma, verrucous (squamous) carcinoma, and undifferentiated carcinoma with a squamous component. While the individual TNM category definitions are identical to that of other histologies of the esophagus and esophagogastric junction cancers, the prognostic stage groups are different. The following article reflects the 8th edition published by the American Joint Committee on Cancer, which is used for staging starting 1 January 2018 1,2.

For the other histological types, please refer to their dedicated staging articles:  

  • Tx: primary tumor cannot be assessed
  • T0: no evidence of primary tumor
  • Tis: high grade dysplasia (malignant cells confined to the epithelium by the basement membrane)
  • T1: tumor invades lamina propria, muscularis mucosae or submucosa
    • T1a: invades lamina propria or muscularis mucosae
    • T1b: invades submucosa
  • T2: tumor invades muscularis propria
  • T3: tumor invades adventitia
  • T4: tumor invades adjacent structures
  • NX: regional nodes cannot be assessed
  • N0: no regional lymph node metastasis
  • N1: metastasis in 1-2 regional nodes
  • N2: metastasis in 3-6 regional nodes
  • N3: metastasis in ≥7 regional nodes

The regional lymph node stations are defined separately: esophageal lymph node stations.

  • cM0: no distant metastasis
  • cM1: distant metastasis clinically present
  • pM1: distant metastasis pathologically (microscopically) confirmed

The prognostic stage group also depends on histologic grade and location.

  • GX: grade cannot be assessed
  • G1: well-differentiated: prominent keratinization with pearl formation and a minor component of nonkeratinizing basal-like cells; tumor cells arranged in sheets, and low mitotic counts
  • G2: moderately differentiated; variable histologic features, ranging from parakeratotic to poorly keratinizing lesions; generally, pearl formation absent
  • G3: poorly differentiated or undifferentiated; predominantly of basal-like cells forming large and small nests with frequent central necrosis; nests consist of sheets or pavement-like arrangements of tumor cells, and occasionally punctuated by small numbers of parakeratotic or keratinizing cells

Location is defined by the center of the tumor within the esophagus.

  • X: location unknown
  • upper: cervical esophagus to lower border of azygos vein
  • middle: lower border of azygos vein to lower border of inferior pulmonary vein
  • lower: lower border of inferior pulmonary vein to stomach, including gastroesophageal junction

Staging criteria are separated by treatment strategy: clinical (cTNM) classification prior to any treatment, pathologic (pTNM) classification after surgery alone, and posttherapy pathologic (ypTNM) classification after both neoadjuvant (systemic or radiation therapy) treatment and then surgery.

  • stage 0
    • Tis, N0, M0
  • stage I
    • T1, [N0, N1], M0
  • stage II
    • ​T2, [N0, N1], M0
    • T3, N0, M0
  • stage III
    • T3, N1, M0
    • [T1, T2, T3], N2, M0
  • stage IVA
    • T4, [N0, N1, N2], M0
    • [Any T], N3, M0
  • stage IVB
    • [Any T], [Any N], M1
  • stage 0
    • Tis, N0, M0, [G N/A], [Any L]
  • stage IA
    • T1a, N0, M0, [GX, G1], [Any L]
  • stage IB
    • T1a, N0, M0, [G2, G3], [Any L]
    • T1b, N0, M0, [Any G], [Any L]
    • T2, N0, M0, G1, [Any L]
  • stage IIA
    • T2, N0, M0, [GX, G2, G3], [Any L]
    • T3, N0, M0, G1, [upper, middle]
    • T3, N0, M0, [G1, G2, G3], [lower]
  • stage IIB
    • T1, N1, M0, [Any G], [Any L]
    • T3, N0, M0, [G2, G3], [upper, middle]
    • T3, N0, M0, GX, [upper, middle, lower]
    • T3, N0, M0, [Any G], [Location X]
  • stage IIIA
    • T1, N2, M0, [Any G], [Any L]
    • T2, N1, M0, [Any G], [Any L]
  • stage IIIB
    • T2, N2, M0, [Any G], [Any L]
    • T3, [N1, N2], M0, [Any G], [Any L]
    • T4a, [N0, N1], M0, [Any G], [Any L]
  • stage IVA
    • T4a, N2, M0, [Any G], [Any L]
    • T4b, [N0, N1, N2], M0, [Any G], [Any L]
    • [Any T], N3, M0, [Any G], [Any L]
  • stage IVB
    • [Any T], [Any N], M1, [Any G], [Any L]
  • stage I
    • [T0, T1, T2], N0, M0
  • stage II
    • T3, N0, M0
  • stage IIIA
    • [T0, T1, T2], N1, M0
  • stage IIIB
    • T3, N1, M0
    • [T0, T1, T2, T3], N2, M0
    • T4a, N0, M0
  • stage IVA
    • T4a, [NX, N1, N2], M0
    • T4b, [N0, N1, N2], M0
    • [Any T], N3, M0
  • stage IVB
    • [Any T], [Any N], M1

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads