Thomas Jefferson University

Esophageal Cancer

Quick Facts

Each year in the United States, about 13,000 men and 3,500 women are told they have this disease.

Risk factors include age 65 or older (the chance of getting esophageal cancer increases as people get older), smoking, heavy drinking, diet low in fruits and vegetables, obesity, or prolonged acid reflux causing a condition known as Barrett esophagus, which may lead to cancer. Also, men are three times more likely than women to develop esophageal cancer.


Cancer that forms in tissues lining the esophagus (the muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach). Two types of esophageal cancer are squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in flat cells lining the esophagus) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).

Specialized Physicians:
Atrayee Basu Mallick, MD
Avnish Bhatia, MD
Andrew E. Chapman, DO
Daniel Lin, MD
Edith P. Mitchell, MD, FACP *
James Posey III, MD
Michael J. Ramirez, MD
Lewis J. Rose, MD, FACP
Allison Zibelli, MD, FACP

*Practice Focus: Gastrointestinal Oncology

For further information contact:
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Stage 0: Abnormal cells are found only in the inner layer of the esophagus. This is called carcinoma in situ.

Stage I: The cancer has grown through the inner layer to the submucosa. (The picture shows the submucosa and other layers.)

Stage II: The cancer has grown through the inner layer to the submucosa, and cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes; or, the cancer has invaded the muscle layer. Cancer cells may be found in lymph nodes; or, the cancer has grown through the outer layer of the esophagus,

Stage III: The cancer has grown through the outer layer, and cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes; or, the cancer has invaded nearby structures, such as the airways. Cancer cells may have spread to lymph nodes.

Stage IV: Cancer cells have spread to distant organs, such as the liver.


When the diagnosis is esophageal cancer, Jefferson’s Esophageal Disorders Program’s multidisciplinary team of gastroenterologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, surgical pathologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists devises a personalized treatment plan based on the size of the tumor, its location and stage.
Jefferson physicians are experienced in treating early esophageal cancer through advanced endoscopic techniques including endoscopic mucosal resection, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), cryosurgery and photodynamic therapy.

Jefferson physicians were the first in the Delaware Valley to perform the robotic-assisted laparoscopic DaVinci esophagectomy.

Reference: National Cancer Institute.