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16

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

Esophageal Cancer, Version 1.2016

2

Cancer staging

TNM scores

N = Node

Lymph drains from esophageal tissue into vessels

that transport lymph to the bloodstream. As lymph

travels, it passes through small, oval-shaped

structures called lymph nodes. Lymph nodes remove

germs from lymph. As shown in

Figure 5

, lymph

nodes and vessels are found throughout the body.

The N category reflects the number of lymph nodes

with esophageal cancer.

NX

means it is unknown if there is cancer in

lymph nodes.

N0

means that there is no cancer within the

nearby lymph nodes.

N1

means the cancer has spread to 1 or 2

lymph nodes.

N2

means the cancer has spread to 3 to 6

lymph nodes.

N3

means the cancer has spread to 7 or more

lymph nodes

M = Metastasis

The M category tells you if there are metastases to

sites not in direct contact with the esophagus. Such

sites include distant lymph nodes.

MX

means it is unknown if cancer has spread

to distant sites.

M0

means that there is no growth to distant

sites.

M1

means that the cancer has spread to

distant sites.

Figure 5.

Lymph nodes near the

esophagus

Throughout your body is a network

of vessels that transport lymph to the

bloodstream. Lymph is a clear fluid that

contains germ-fighting blood cells. As

lymph travels in vessels, it passes through

lymph nodes, which remove germs from

lymph. Esophageal cancer first spreads to

lymph nodes next to the esophagus and

then beyond.

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