The incidence of esophageal cancer in the United States is on the rise, according to a study presented in a poster at the 2023 NCCN Annual Conference. 

Researchers found a significant increase in esophageal cancer incidence from 2005 to 2019. They also found an increase in the mean age at diagnosis and an increase in hospital charges related to esophageal cancer. 

On the other hand, the mortality rate and length of hospital stay for patients with esophageal cancer both decreased during the study period.

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For this study, researchers analyzed data from adults diagnosed with esophageal cancer who were included in the National Inpatient Sample database during 2005-2019. A total of 548,111 patients were diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and 50,312 of them died.

The incidence of esophageal cancer increased from 0.09% in 2005 to 0.11% in 2019 (P <.0001). The mean age at diagnosis also increased, from 66.5 years to 67.2 years (P <.01). 

The mortality rate decreased from 11% in 2005 to 8.0% in 2019 (P <.0001). The average yearly mortality rate was 9.5%.

“As various diagnostic and treatment modalities developed over the decades, there’s been a steady increase in the prevalence of esophageal cancer due to improved disease detection, while mortality rates have significantly decreased,” the researchers wrote in their poster.

They also found that the length of hospital stay decreased from 7.9 days in 2005 to 6.9 days in 2019 (P <.01). However, the total hospital charges more than doubled, from $38,477 to $85,524 (P <.01).

“Further investigation … with attention to the subtype of esophageal carcinoma may provide further insight in future studies,” the researchers concluded.


Dasu N, Dasu K, John J, et al. Analyzing trends in the incidence and mortality of esophageal cancer in the United States: A 15-year population-based study. NCCN 2023. March 31 – April 2, 2023. Abstract EPR23-078.

This article originally appeared on Cancer Therapy Advisor