Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Tests and procedures used to diagnose esophageal cancer include:

  • Using a scope to examine your esophagus (endoscopy). During endoscopy, your doctor passes a hollow tube equipped with a lens (endoscope) down your throat and into your esophagus. Using the endoscope, your doctor examines your esophagus, looking for cancer or areas of irritation.
  • Collecting a sample of tissue for testing (biopsy). Your doctor may use a special scope passed down your throat into your esophagus (endoscope) to collect a sample of suspicious tissue (biopsy). The tissue sample is sent to a laboratory to look for cancer cells.

Esophageal cancer staging

When you're diagnosed with esophageal cancer, your doctor works to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer. Your cancer's stage helps determine your treatment options.

Tests used in staging esophageal cancer include computerized tomography (CT) scan and positron emission tomography (PET).

The stages of esophageal cancer are:

  • Stage I. This cancer occurs in the superficial layers of cells lining your esophagus.
  • Stage II. The cancer has invaded deeper layers of your esophagus lining and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage III. The cancer has spread to the deepest layers of the wall of your esophagus and to nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV. The cancer has spread to other parts of your body.
May. 15, 2014

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