Oesophageal cancer statistics

Oesophageal cancer is the seventh most common cancer worldwide

Oesophageal cancer is the seventh most commonly occurring cancer in men and the 13th most commonly occurring cancer in women. There were over 500,000 new cases in 2018. The top 20 countries with the highest rates of oesophageal cancer in 2018 are given in the tables below.

Oesophageal cancer is classified into two main types: squamous cell carcinoma, which occurs in the upper part of the oesophagus, and adenocarcinoma, which develops at the junction of the oesophagus and stomach. Globally, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type and accounts for the vast majority of cases; however, the proportion of adenocarcinomas is increasing dramatically in affluent nations.

The Continuous Update Project Panel judged there is strong evidence that greater body fatness increases the risk of adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus. There is some evidence that consuming vegetables might decrease the risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

The Panel judged there is strong evidence that consuming alcoholic drinks and regularly consuming mate (as drunk in the traditional style in South America) increase the risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

There is some evidence that consuming vegetables and fruit might decrease the risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma and consuming processed meat might increase the risk.

There is some evidence that being physically active might decrease the risk of oesophageal cancer (all types).

> Read about all the evidence in our Third Expert Report.

Age-standardised rates are used in the tables. This is a summary measure of the rate of disease that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardisation is necessary when comparing populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of dying from cancer.

Oesophageal cancer rates: both sexes

Malawi had the highest rate of oesophageal cancer in 2018, followed by Mongolia.

RankCountryAge-standardised rate per 100,000
1Malawi18.7
2Mongolia18.5
3Kenya18.4
4Bangladesh14.8
5China13.9
6Zimbabwe12.4
7Tajikistan11.1
8Uganda10.8
9Cape Verde10.4
10Burundi10.2
11Turkmenistan9.2
12Tanzania8.9
13Afghanistan8.2
14Kazakhstan8.1
15=Comoros7.9
15=Madagascar7.9
17South Africa7.8
18South Sudan7.6
19Somalia7.5
20Botswana6.9

Oesophageal cancer rates in men

Malawi had the highest rate of oesophageal cancer in men in 2018, followed by Mongolia.

RankCountryAge-standardised rate per 100,000
1Malawi22.1
2Mongolia22.0
3Kenya21.5
4Cape Verde20.1
5China19.7
6Bangladesh18.7
7Uganda17.9
8Burundi14.8
9Tajikistan13.2
10Zimbabwe13.0
11Botswana11.8
12=Kazakhstan11.4
12=South Africa11.4
12=Tanzania11.4
15Turkmenistan11.2
16Myanmar10.8
17Netherlands10.7
18UK10.1
19Afghanistan9.7
20Cuba9.5

Oesophageal cancer rates in women

Malawi had the highest rate of oesophageal cancer in women in 2018, followed by Mongolia.

RankCountryAge-standardised rate per 100,000
1Malawi16.2
2Mongolia16.0
3Kenya15.8
4Zimbabwe12.1
5Bangladesh10.7
6Tajikistan9.2
7China8.2
8Turkmenistan7.7
9Somalia7.3
10Comoros7.1
11=Afghanistan6.8
11=Mozambique6.8
11=Yemen6.8
14=Madagascar6.7
14=Tanzania6.7
16=Bhutan6.1
16=South Sudan6.1
18Burundi6.0
19Kazakhstan5.9
20South Africa5.4
The data quoted on these webpages come from the Global Cancer Observatory, owned by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and are used with permission. The incidence statistics for 2018 are projections calculated from cancer registry data collected before 2018. Full information on the methods used by IARC is available here.
Source: Bray F, Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Siegel RL, Torre LA, Jemal A. Global Cancer Statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin, in press. The online GLOBOCAN 2018 database is accessible at http://gco.iarc.fr/, as part of IARC’s Global Cancer Observatory.