How Does Endoscopy Work?
- An upper endoscopy is a procedure that allows doctors to examine the upper digestive system, which includes the esophagus.
- During an endoscopy, a doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached down your throat and into the esophagus.
- These procedures can be used to diagnose esophageal cancer, and in rare cases, as part of treatment
- About 10% of esophageal cancer patients may be eligible for something called an endoscopic resection, where doctors remove cancer through the endoscope.
During an endoscopy, a doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached down your throat and into the esophagus.Read More
Abnormalities of the esophagus that may indicate cancer include:
- Lack of uniformity in the esophagus
- Loss of symmetry
When esophageal cancer is stage 1, typically there are no symptoms and the disease is detected with an endoscopy, Dr. Burrows said. When a disease is stage 1, that means it hasn’t penetrated through the wall of the esophagus.
“It’s a very local problem,” Dr. Burrows said of stage 1 disease. “If it’s very, very superficial in this day and age, you don’t even need surgery. You can actually treat it through the endoscopy.”
For very early stage disease, doctors may be able to do something called an endoscopic resection, a minimally invasive procedure where they try to remove the cancer through the endoscopy. However, only about 10% of esophageal cancer patients can be treated with endoscopic resection alone.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What do I need to do to prepare for an endoscopy?
- How can I prepare for recovery after the endoscopy?
- What are the next steps if some abnormality is found?