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Oesophageal Carcinoma

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If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, you may be trying to learn as much as possible about the disease and its treatments. Read on to find out more.

The information on this website should be discussed with your healthcare professional and does not replace their advice.

What is oesophageal carcinoma?

Oesophageal carcinoma is cancer that starts at any point along the length of the oesophagus.

The oesophagus is a tube that takes food and liquids from your mouth to your stomach. It is also known as the food pipe or gullet.

These are the two main subtypes of oesophageal carcinoma:

An icon representing the oesophagus, with the number 1 encircled next to it
  • Adenocarcinoma: This type of oesophageal carcinoma commonly starts close to the gastroesophageal junction (GEJ), which is the junction where the oesophagus and stomach meet.
An icon representing the oesophagus, with the number 2 encircled next to it
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of oesophageal carcinoma commonly begins in the upper and middle section of the oesophagus.

Treatment with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)

Your doctor will plan your treatment according to your individual circumstances. These include your stage of cancer, age, nutritional needs, medical history and general health.

KEYTRUDA is an immunotherapy that may be used in combination with chemotherapy if you have oesophageal or gastroesophageal junction carcinoma that has spread or cannot be removed by surgery (advanced cancer), and you have not received any other treatment for your cancer.

Talk to your doctor to see if KEYTRUDA may be right for you.

KEYTRUDA is not funded in New Zealand for the treatment of patients with oesophageal or gastroesophageal junction carcinoma.


Expand for more information on terms and definitions related to oesophageal cancer.

Terms you may find useful:

Cancer that starts in certain glands in the lining of internal organs, such as the oesophagus.

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract
The passage that food travels through from the mouth to the anus. The upper GI tract includes the oesophagus and stomach.

Gastroesophageal junction
The point where the stomach and oesophagus meet.

A doctor who specialises in treating cancer with drug therapies – for example chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

The expected outcome of your cancer. Your doctor is the best person to ask about your prognosis, but it is not possible for anyone to predict the exact course of cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Cancer that starts in the squamous cells. These are flat cells on the surface of the skin or in the lining of the oesophagus and other organs.

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Questions to ask your doctor

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Patient Resources


Cancer Council Australia. 2021. Understanding Stomach and Oesophageal Cancers. A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends.
Available at:
Accessed on 02/03/2022


KEYTRUDA Consumer Medicine Information

NZ-KEY-00882. TAPS DA 2339KN TAPS NP20132. First Issued February 2024.