Oesophageal cancer statistics

Oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world, with 456,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012.

There are two types of oesophageal cancer - adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma develops at the junction of the oesophagus and stomach, and squamous cell carcinoma occurs in the cells lining the upper part of the oesophagus.

Smoking is an important risk factor for oesophageal cancer as well as chewing betel quid (on its own and also with tobacco quid). It is associated with a 70 per cent increased risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma compared with non-use, and a 180 per cent increased risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

Human papilloma virus is also a cause of this cancer and may play a role in the geographical differences in incidence of this disease.

The Continuous Update Project Panel judged:

  • There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma. The research showed a 48% increased risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma per 5 BMI units.
  • There is also strong evidence that consuming alcohol increases the risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma - 25% increased risk per 10 g/day.
  • There is strong evidence that drinking mate (as drunk traditionally in parts of South America, scalding hot through a metal straw) increases the risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

Preventability estimates using the new findings from the Continuous Update Project show that about 34% of cases of oesophageal cancer in the UK could be prevented by being a healthy weight, having a healthy diet and not drinking alcohol.

The countries with the top 20 highest incidence of oesophageal cancer in 2012 are given in the table below.

Both sexes

  • Malawi had the highest rate of oesophageal cancer, followed by Turkmenistan and Kenya.
  • About 81 per cent of oesophageal cancer cases occurred in less developed countries.
  • The highest incidence of oesophageal cancer was in Asia and Africa; and the lowest incidence in Northern America and Europe.
Rank Country Age-Standardised Rate per 100,000 (World)
1 Malawi 24.2
2 Turkmenistan 19.7
3 Kenya 17.6
3 Mongolia 17.6
5 Uganda 17.1
6 Lesotho 15.1
7 Tajikistan 14.7
8 Burundi 12.8
9 Bangladesh 12.7
10 China 12.5
11 Somalia 10.5
12 Kazakhstan 10.1
13 South African Republic 9.9
14 Afghanistan 9.6
14 Zimbabwe 9.6
14 Comoros 9.6
17 Mozambique 9.5
18 South Sudan 9.4
19 Tanzania 9.2
19 Botswana 9.2

Source: Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.1, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed on 16/01/2015.

Men

  • Malawi had the highest rate of oesophageal cancer in 2012, followed by Uganda and Turkmenistan.
  • About 79 per cent of oesophageal cancer cases occurred in less developed countries.
  • The highest incidence of oesophageal cancer was in Asia and Europe; and the lowest incidence in Oceania and Northern America.
Rank Country Age-Standardised Rate per 100,000 (World)
1 Malawi 28.2
2 Uganda 24.8
3 Turkmenistan 24.0
4 Mongolia 21.2
5 Lesotho 21.0
6 Kenya 20.5
7 Tajikistan 19.8
8 Burundi 19.0
9 China 18.6
10 Bangladesh 15.9
11 Kazakhstan 15.8
12 Botswana 15.4
13 South African Republic 13.9
14 Tanzania 12.9
15 Comoros 12.5
15 Mozambique 12.5
17 Afghanistan 11.8
17 Zimbabwe 11.8
19 South Sudan 11.7
20 Myanmar 11.4

Source: Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.1, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed on 16/01/2015.

Women

  • Malawi had the highest rate of oesophageal cancer in 2012, followed by Turkmenistan and Kenya.
  • About 86 per cent of oesophageal cancer cases occurred in less developed countries.
  • The highest incidence of oesophageal cancer was in Asia and Africa; and the lowest incidence in Northern America and Europe.
Rank Country Age-Standardised Rate per 100,000 (World)
1 Malawi 20.8
2 Turkmenistan 16.4
3 Kenya 15.1
4 Mongolia 14.9
5 Lesotho 11.2
6 Tajikistan 10.7
7 Uganda 10.4
8 Somalia 9.8
9 Bangladesh 9.5
10 Burundi 8.2
11 Iran, Islamic Republic of 8.0
11 Zimbabwe 8.0
13 Afghanistan 7.5
14 Zambia 7.4
14 South Sudan 7.4
16 Mozambique 7.1
17 Comoros 7.0
18 South African Republic 6.9
19 China 6.7
20 Kazakhstan 6.6

Source: Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.1, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed on 16/01/2015.