Skip to
  1. Homepage
  2. Rare diseases
  3. Search
Simple search

Simple search

(*) mandatory field


Other search option(s)

Carcinoma of esophagus

Synonym(s) Esophageal carcinoma
Prevalence 1-9 / 100 000
Inheritance -
Age of onset Adult
ICD-10 -
  • C0152018
MeSH -
  • 10030155


Disease definition

Esophageal carcinoma (EC) is a tumor arising in the epithelial cells lining the esophagus and can be divided into two subtypes: esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) (see these terms).


The estimated annual incidence of EC in Europe is approximately 1/13,300.

Clinical description

The disease usually presents between the ages of 50-70 years. It is often asymptomatic until it has reached an advanced disease stage with the first symptoms usually being difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), especially present when swallowing dry foods. Unintentional weight loss is also common. Manifestations of back or chest pain, hoarseness of voice, unexplained coughing, protracted hiccups, and severe reflux may be presenting or associated symptoms. More rarely, neck swelling from adenopathies may be the initial manifestation.


The etiology is unknown but many risk factors for esophageal cancer have been identified. Alcohol abuse, smoking, lye ingestion, radiation therapy and achalasia are associated with ESCC. EAC is associated with Barrett's esophagus (see this term), which is intestinal metaplasia (replacement of normal esophageal epithelia by intestinal epithelia), associated with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease. EAC has also been associated with obesity, in particular visceral obesity and metabolic syndromes which are more common in men than in women.

Expert reviewer(s)

  • Dr Claire DONOHOE
  • Dr John REYNOLDS

(*) Required fields.

Attention: Only comments seeking to improve the quality and accuracy of information on the Orphanet website are accepted. For all other comments, please send your remarks via contact us. Only comments written in English can be processed.

Captcha image

Detailed information

Summary information
Review article
Clinical practice guidelines
Article for general public
Get Acrobat Reader
The documents contained in this web site are presented for information purposes only. The material is in no way intended to replace professional medical care by a qualified specialist and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or treatment.