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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How is oesophageal cancer diagnosed?

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    Dr Michael Swan


    Michael Swan is a Gastroenterologist specialising in endoscopy, pancreaticobiliary disease and gastrointestinal cancer screening. Michael trained in clinical endoscopy with leaders in the field both … View Profile

    Oesophageal cancer is typically diagnosed with the use of gastroscopy.
    Gastroscopy is an endoscopic procedure that involves the use of a flexible tube (with a camera inside) passed through the mouth and into the stomach. It can view and inspect the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and start of the small bowel (duodenum).
    Oesophageal cancer can be suspected when imaging tests are performed such as a barium swallow, CT scan, MRI or PET scan. However in order for cancer to be diagnosed a small piece of the suspected lesion needs to be taken and examined under a microscope - this is called histological assessment. Therefore a gastroscopy is organised to directly view the lesion and take samples (called biopsies).
    Following the diagnosis of oesophageal cancer, further investigations may be needed for staging (asessing whether the cancer has spread and to what extent). These investigations may include CT scans, PET scans and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS).

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