Esophageal cancer is one of the more deadly forms of the disease. Although science has worked hard to increase the average survival rate for individuals afflicted with it, it is a long way from being considered "cured." Fortunately, the disease is relatively uncommon, so not many have to suffer through this condition.
According to the website Medline Plus, esophageal cancer begins in the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Symptoms of this disease include difficulty swallowing, localized pain around the chest area, regurgitation of food, unexpected weight loss, and vomiting blood.
Discussing life expectancy necessitates a discussion of stages, as life expectancy will depend on how far the disease has spread. In stage zero, pre-cancerous cells are within the esophagus. In stage I, the cancer has actually formed and has spread into the second layer of tissue in the esophagus. In stage II, the cancer has spread to the first three layers of the esophagus and possibly to some surrounding lymph nodes. In stage III, cancer has fully penetrated the esophagus. Finally, in stage IV the cancer has metastasized, which means it has spread away from the esophagus and into other organs and tissues.
Survival rate for esophageal cancer is measured by a standard called the five-year survival rate, which provides the percentage of patients who will be alive five years after their initial diagnosis. Whereas the survival rate for someone with stage zero cancer is a promising 80 to 90 percent, the survival rate of someone with stage IV Esophageal Cancer drops to 2.8 percent.
Life expectancy likewise varies depending on the stage in which the disease is caught and the aggressiveness of the cancer. The only time that life expectancy can be estimated with a reasonable level of accuracy is during the final stages of the disease, as there are too many variables that could influence the numbers otherwise. According to the website CancersTreatments.com, the life expectancy of someone with stage IV esophageal cancer is right around six months.
Keep in mind that these figures are merely averages. If you, or someone you know, has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, you may very well beat these figures by manipulating the variables within your control by following a healthy diet and exercise plan throughout your struggle with cancer. Placing yourself in peak physical condition is one of the best ways to ensure that you are on the higher end of any set of statistics regarding life expectancy and esophageal cancer.