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Esophageal Cancer – Four More Questions That Could Make The Difference

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If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, you may wish to ask your physician the following additional four questions:

1. What diagnostic tests will I be taking besides the biopsy that has already been done or recommended?
Doctors can run a combination of diagnostic tests to confirm the size, location, malignancy, and spread of the tumor. The common diagnostic tests are:

• Barium Swallow Test – Imaging of the swallowed barium as it passes through the patient’s esophagus and stomach. Also known as the upper GI series, the barium coating brings out better contrast in X-rayed images and allows for better understanding of the presentation.

• Chest X-ray
• CT scan – Computerized axial tomography scans may be performed on the chest, abdomen, and/or brain to examine for metastatic cancers. This is a high resolution imaging procedure showing organs from different angles to a certain depth.
• PET Scan - Positron emission tomography helps determine whether a tumor tissue is actively growing and determines the type of cells within a tumor.
• Biopsy – Tissues suspected of being cancerous need to be examined under a microscope for their malignancy. Tissue samples are taken from the suspicious site in the esophagus, lung, by passing a special scope for this purpose.
• Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (GERD) – This involves the passing of a flexible tube down the esophagus and visualizing the wall.
• Laryngoscopy - This helps visualize the larynx or voice box with the help of a lighted tube.
• Bronchoscopy – Bronchoscopy is done with a thin fiber optic probe to obtain samples of the tumor for further tests such as biopsy. It is also used to visualize the tumor.
• Laproscopy – An incision is made in the abdomen through which a lighted tube is inserted to examine the spread of the cancer to other organs or to take samples for biopsy.
• Endoscopic Ultrasound – Also known as endosonography, it provides "staging" information regarding the level of tumor invasion, and possible spread to regional lymph nodes.
• Thoracoscopy – Here, an incision is made in the chest through which a lighted tube is inserted to check for the cancer in the esophagus.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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