See your GP if you experience symptoms of oesophageal cancer . They will carry out an initial assessment and decide whether you need to have any further tests.
Your GP may:
Ifyour GPthinks you need to have some tests, they can refer you to a hospital specialist. This will usually be a gastroenterologist (specialist in conditions affecting the digestive system).
The tests your gastroenterologistmay recommend are described below.
The two main tests used todiagnose oesophageal cancer are:
An endoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to see inside your oesophagus so they can check forcancer.
Athin, flexibletube with alight and camera at the end(an endoscope) is passed into your mouth and down towards your stomach.
Small samples of tissue are also removed fromyour oesophagus so they can be checked for cancer under a microscope. This is called a biopsy .
You'll be awake whilean endoscopy is carried out. It shouldn't be painful, but may be a bit uncomfortable.
You'll normally be given local anaesthetic to numb your throatand possibly asedative to help you relax.
A barium swallow or barium meal involves drinking a harmless white liquid called barium before several X-rays are taken.
The barium coats the lining of your oesophagus so it shows up on the X-ray. This can show whether there's anything blockingyour oesophagus, which may be a sign of cancer.
This test isn't used to diagnose oesophageal cancer very often nowadays because the best way to confirm a diagnosis is to use tissue samples taken during an endoscopy.
Ifyou have oesophageal cancer, further tests willberecommended to determine how far the cancer has spread known as called the "stage". See below for more information about this.
These tests may include:
The most widely used system for staging oesophageal cancer is the TNM system. This involves scoring the cancer in three categories:
Scores for eachcategory are then often used in a simpler number system, ranging from stage 1 (early cancer) to stage 4 (advanced cancer).
Knowing the stage of your cancer will help yourcare teamwork out the best treatment for you. .
Want to know more?
Find out about oesophageal cancer, including what the symptoms are, why it occurs and what the main treatments are.
Find out about the main symptoms of oesophageal cancer and when to get medical advice.
Find out about the things that can increase your risk of oesophageal cancer, including GORD, alcohol, smoking, obesity and an unhealthy diet.
Find out how oesophageal is diagnosed, including which tests you may need to have.
Find out about the main treatments for oesophageal cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Find information and advice about living with oesophageal cancer, including how your diet may change and what financial support is available.