Important information

A person with a suspected oesophageal cancer should be referred to an upper gastrointestinal surgeon who is a member of the multidisciplinary team at one of the 16 specialist centres for oesophageal cancer surgery1.

All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.


What is cancer of the oesophagus?

Oesophageal cancer starts in the cells of the oesophagus. This is the tube that takes food and drink from the mouth to the stomach.



What tests are needed?

Common tests used to diagnose oesophageal cancer include:

  • physical examination
  • blood tests
  • endoscopy
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • imaging - ultrasound, CT scan and/or PET scan
  • laparoscopy.


What treatment options are there?

Treatment for oesophageal cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy.

Oesophageal cancer surgery is very complex. It requires a special team of health care professionals with a lot of experience doing this type of surgery. Research shows that it is better to have complex surgery at hospitals that do a lot of this type of surgery. Patients have fewer complications, less risk of early death, and better overall survival.

Patients who need surgery for oesophageal cancer should have this at one of the hospitals on the list below, which meet the minimum suggested annual caseload for oesophageal cancer surgery1

Patients may need to travel to have surgery at a recommended hospital. The local health district will have an arrangement in place for this. Patients may still be able to have other parts of their treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, closer to home. This should be discussed with the treating specialist.


How common is oesophageal cancer in NSW?

Oesophageal cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 2011
    484 people in NSW
  • 2012
    440 people in NSW
  • 2013
    468 people in NSW

Data Source: Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality dataset, 2013 (sourced from the NSW Cancer Registry)