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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Esophageal Cancer, Version 1.2016


Cancer staging

Cancer grade

Cancer grade

A pathologist is a doctor who’s an expert in making

a diagnosis by looking at cells with a microscope.

Samples of the mass will be removed from your body

and sent to a pathologist for testing. All test results will

be written in a pathology report. It’s a good idea to get

a copy of your pathology report since it’s used to plan


Histology is the study of tissue with a microscope. The

pattern and type of cells from the samples are studied

to help determine the histologic type. The pathology

report will state if the samples have cancer cells and

if the cancer started in the esophagus or elsewhere.

If the cancer started in the esophagus, the report will

also list the type of esophageal cancer. Histologic

subtypes of esophageal cancer include squamous cell

carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and other rare types.

The pathologist also assigns a cancer grade. This

score is a sign of how fast the cancer will likely grow

and spread. Higher scores mean that the cancer

will likely grow and spread fast. The grades for

esophageal cancer are:


means the grade can’t be assessed (often

because there’s not enough tissue),


means the cancer cells look similar to

healthy cells,


means the cancer cells are somewhat

different than healthy cells,


means the cancer cells barely look like

healthy cells, and


means the cancer cells don’t look anything

like healthy cells.