April is Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month

Gastric and oesophageal cancers symptoms and diagnosis



If you’ve been told you have oesophageal cancer, you will need more tests. These will help the specialists find out the size of the cancer and how far it’s spread (called the stage). This helps you and your doctor decide the best treatment approach.

There are several different methods your doctors may use to determine the state of your oesophageal or gastric cancer. These include:


  • Grade 1 – the cancer cells look very similar to normal cells and are growing slowly (low grade)
  • Grade 2 – the cells don’t look like normal cells and are growing more quickly than normal (intermediate grade)
  • Grade 3 – the cancer cells look very abnormal and are growing quickly (high grade)

TNM staging system

The TNM staging system stands for tumour, node and metastases.

  • T describes the size of the tumour (cancer) and if there is more than one tumour
  • N describes whether there are any cancer cells in the lymph nodes
  • M describes whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body

Your doctor gives each letter (T, N and M) a number, depending on how far the cancer has grown. T is scored from 1 to 4. N and M are scored from 0 to 1.

Number staging system

The Number staging system divides cancer into 4 main stages, from 1 to 4. Doctors often write the stage down in Roman numerals (I, II, III and IV). Stage I is an early cancer. Stage IV is advanced, which means the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or another part of the body.

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