Cancerous tumours of the esophagus

A cancerous tumour of the esophagus can grow into and destroy nearby tissue. It can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere along the esophagus. Cancers that start in the area where the esophagus joins the stomach (called the gastroesophageal, or GE, junction) often grow and spread like cancer of the esophagus, so they are treated like esophageal cancers. Cancerous tumours are also called malignant tumours.


Adenocarcinoma tumours of the esophagus start in the gland cells in the tissues lining the esophagus. It is the most common type of esophageal cancer in developed Western countries like Canada and the United States. Adenocarcinoma tumours are usually found in the lower part of the esophagus, in tissue that has been damaged in people with Barrett's esophagus. These tumours often spread into the stomach.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) tumours start in the flat cells in the tissue lining the esophagus. The highest rates of SCC of the esophagus occur in parts of China, Iran, South America, France and Africa. These tumours are usually found in the middle to upper part of the esophagus.

Rare esophageal tumours

The following cancerous tumours of the esophagus are rare:

Expert review and references

  • Abraham SC, Wu T . Esophageal Cancer: Pathology. Kelsen, D. P., Daly, J. M., Kern, S. E., Levin, B., Tepper, J. E., & Van Cutsem, E. (eds.). Principles and Practice of Gastrointestinal Oncology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008: 16: 179-191.
  • Oesophageal cancer. Cancer Research UK. CancerHelp UK. Cancer Research UK; 2014.
  • Devlin JG, Odze RD, Cheng JD . Uncommon cancers of the esophagus. Raghavan, E., Brecher, M. L., Johnson, D. H., et al. (Eds.). Textbook of Uncommon Cancer. 3rd ed. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons; 2006: 30: 337-351.
  • Posner, MC, Minsky BD, & Ilson DH . Cancer of the esophagus. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011: 79: pp. 887-923.