The aims of this study were (1) to determine the incremental information provided by (18)F-FDG positron emission tomography (PET) in staging patients with oesophageal cancer, and (2) to determine the impact of PET staging on post-PET clinical management of oesophageal cancer, and on prognosis.In a multicentre, single-arm open study, patients with proved oesophageal cancer without definite distant metastases and regarded as suitable for potentially curative treatment were examined by PET. Clinicians were requested to supply a management plan before and another plan after being supplied with the PET scan results. Patients were followed for at least 1 year for outcome analysis.A total of 129 patients (104 men, mean age 67 y) were recruited. PET detected additional sites of disease in 53 patients (41%). Significant changes in management (high or medium impact) were observed in 38% of patients, primarily as a result of identifying additional sites of disease and/or confirming previously equivocal regional and distant metastases. Progression-free survival was significantly shorter in patients found to have additional lesions on PET (p < 0.05), but was not related to SUV(max).These findings demonstrate the significant impact of PET on the clinical management of patients with newly diagnosed oesophageal carcinoma, and on prognostic stratification of these patients.