considering sophisticated diagnostic techniques, your doctor will ask you questions about your current health
and your medical history. In addition, he will do a physical examination of your mouth and throat looking for
esophageal cancer signs: difficulty swallowing, pain behind the chest bone (sternum), painful swallowing, etc.
However, these signs are not enough to establish the diagnosis; more special tests must be done to confirm an
esophageal cancer diagnosis.
Upper GI endoscopy - this exam
allows your doctor to detect precancerous or cancerous formations in your upper GI tract: esophagus, stomach, and
duodenum. During the
examination, your physician uses a hollow tube equipped with a lens called endoscope. He passes the endoscope
down through your throat into your esophagus to examine your esophagus cavity with precision. Endoscopy may be
uncomfortable for some patients, but it is completely painless.
swallow – also
called upper gastrointestinal (GI)
swallow is performed
to detect abnormalities in the upper
digestive system such as
ulcers, tumors or inflammation. While
standing in front of the x-ray machine, you will be
asked to swallow a contrast
agent called barium sulfate. The x-ray will control the progress of the liquid through your system, and
image the hollow structure of your esophagus.
Your doctor will recommend
barium swallow if you experience trouble swallowing,
gastroesophageal reflux, pain in the chest or abdomen, unreasonable vomiting, indigestion or blood in the stool
(which indicates internal bleeding).
Biopsy – to confirm the diagnosis accurately, your doctor will
recommend a biopsy. It involves removing cells or tissues of your esophagus to examine under a microscope. Your
physician may also take samples of lymph nodes near the tumor to examine for laboratory analysis.
If cancer cells are found, additional procedures will be
performed to determine how fast those cancer cells grow.
Ultrasound - if your oncologist suspects that the cancer has spread
to other organs, he may recommend an ultrasound of the chest and liver to confirm the presence of cancer in