Staging and prognosis for oesophageal cancer
These tests help show whether you have oesophageal cancer and whether it has spread. Working out how far the cancer has spread is called staging. It helps your doctors recommend the best treatment for you.
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The TNM staging system is the method most often used to stage oesophageal cancer. The specialist gives numbers to the size of the tumour (T1–4), whether or not lymph nodes are affected (N0–N3), and whether the cancer has spread or metastasised (M0 or M1). The lower the numbers, the less advanced the cancer.
The TNM scores are combined to work out the overall stage of the cancer, from stage 1 to stage 4. Ask your doctor to explain what the stage of the cancer means for you. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
|stage 1||early or limited cancer||tumours are found only in the oesophageal wall lining|
|stages 2-3||locally advanced cancer||tumours have spread deeper into the layers of the oesophageal wall and to nearby lymph nodes|
|stage 4||metastatic or advanced cancer||tumours have spread beyond the oesophageal wall to nearby lymph nodes or parts of the body, or to distant lymph nodes and parts of the body|
Prognosis means the expected outcome of a disease. You may wish to discuss your prognosis and treatment options with your doctor, but it is not possible for anyone to predict the exact course of the disease. Instead, your doctor can give you an idea about the general prognosis for people with the same type and stage of cancer.
To work out your prognosis and advise you on treatment options, your doctor will consider your test results; the type of cancer; the size of the cancer and how far it has grown into other tissue; whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes; how it might respond to treatment; and your age, level of fitness and medical history.
Generally, the earlier oesophageal cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome of treatment. If cancer is found after it has spread, it may not respond as well to treatment.
Podcast: Tests and Cancer
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Dr Spiro Raftopoulos, Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Peter Blyth, Consumer; Jeff Bull, Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Nurse Consultant, Cancer Services, Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, SA; Mick Daws, Consumer; Dr Steven Leibman, Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeon, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Prof Michael Michael, Medical Oncologist, Lower and Upper Gastrointestinal Oncology Service, and Co-Chair Neuroendocrine Unit, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD; Rose Rocca, Senior Clinical Dietitian: Upper Gastrointestinal, Nutrition and Speech Pathology Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Letchemi Valautha, Consumer; Lesley Woods, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA.
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