Esophageal And Stomach Cancer – Types & Stages

Types & Stages of Esophageal & Stomach Cancer

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At Orange County CyberKnife, we believe there’s always hope in the fight against cancer, no matter how serious the situation. Our state-of-the-art cancer center provides world-class treatment to patients throughout Orange County every day, and we’re proud to offer a number of noninvasive treatments like CyberKnife. We treat almost every form of cancer at our radiation therapy center, and if you’re suffering from esophageal or stomach cancer, we can help

Types of Esophageal & Stomach Cancer

While esophageal and stomach (gastric) cancer are separate conditions, they’re often grouped together because the tissues involved are fairly similar. However, as with most cancers, there are many specific subtypes of esophageal & stomach cancer depending on the type of cell in which the cancer starts. The main types of esophageal cancer include:

  • Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common form of esophageal cancer in the US. Adenocarcinoma begins in the cells of glands that secrete mucus.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This is the most common form of esophageal cancer in the world at large, beginning in the thin, flat cells that line the inner surface of the esophagus.
  • Rare Forms: Less common forms of esophageal cancer include sarcoma, melanoma, lymphoma, carcinoma, and choriocarcinoma.

The main types of stomach cancer include:

  • Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common form of stomach cancer, accounting for 90-95% of all cases. These tumors develop in cells of the mucosa, the innermost lining of the stomach.
  • Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system, but can be found in the wall of the stomach.
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST): This is a rare form of stomach cancer that forms in a type of stomach wall cell called interstitial cells of Cajal. GISTs may be benign or cancerous, and while they can develop anywhere in the digestive tract, they’re most common in the stomach.
  • Carcinoid Tumor: This is a tumor that forms in cells of the stomach that make hormones.

Stages of Esophageal & Stomach Cancer

As with most forms of cancer, the severity of esophageal and stomach cancers is assessed using the TNM system. This evaluates three key factors:

  • Tumor: The size of the original tumor.
  • Node: The extent to which cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes.
  • Metastasis: Whether or not the cancer has metastasized (spread) to distant sites.

Your cancer doctor will assess each variable individually, then consider them together to assign an overall stage to the cancer. In addition to the TNM system, esophageal cancer is evaluated by grade. The grading system assesses the malignancy of the cancer – that is, how aggressively it will grow and spread. Grades of esophageal cancer are as follows:

  • Grade 1: The cancer cells look fairly similar to healthy esophageal cells. This is the least severe grade and these cancers will likely grow less aggressively.
  • Grade 2: The cancer cells look more abnormal than in grade 1, but do not qualify as grade 3.
  • Grade 3: The cancer cells look very abnormal. This is the most aggressive grade and likely means the cancer will grow and spread aggressively.
  • GX: The grade is unknown or can’t be assessed.

Staging for esophageal cancer is more complex than for other cancers, as there are a number of factors involved. Generally speaking, the lower the extent of growth and spread, the lower the stage. A tumor that is still relatively small, has not spread to lymph nodes or nearby structures, and has not spread to any other organs will be a lower stage cancer. Tumors that have grown large or infected lymph nodes will be higher-stage cancers. The highest stage is any tumor that has metastasized to another organ like the liver or lungs.

Similar to esophageal cancer, the staging system for stomach cancer is complex. Cancer doctors use both the TNM model and the grading system to assign a stage, and your doctor may use a variety of specific staging systems depending on the treatments being considered. As with esophageal cancer, the earlier the stage of stomach cancer, the less the cancer has grown and spread. Small tumors that haven’t infected lymph nodes and haven’t penetrated deep into the stomach wall are the lowest-stage cancers, while the highest-stage cancers are those that have infected many lymph nodes or spread to distant sites.

Schedule a Consultation with Your Orange County Cancer Clinic

Getting diagnosed with cancer is a difficult experience no matter the type or the stage – but whatever you’re facing, Orange County CyberKnife is here to help. We’ve helped patient overcome even the most severe cancer cases through world-class treatment and care, and we would be thrilled to do the same for you. Contact us today to learn more about our cancer center and schedule a consultation for treatment. We’ll help you create a plan, thrive during treatment, and reclaim the healthy, normal life you deserve.