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Diagnosis of oesophageal cancer

If a patient has difficulty swallowing the first investigation that is done is usually an X ray taken whilst swallowing a liquid that shows up on X ray pictures. This is called a Barium Swallow. It shows up narrowing’s in the oesophagus and areas where the lining is irregular. If there is an abnormality, the next usual test is an endoscopy.  


This uses a flexible camera that is passed through the mouth in to the throat and then down the oesophagus. The procedure is done under sedation, i.e. the patient is given a medicine to make them sleepy to reduce the discomfort of the procedure.


The endoscopy allows the doctor to look directly at the oesophagus and to take a sample (a biopsy) of any abnormal areas.


These samples are examined under the microscope to look for cancer cells. The type of the cancer can also be determined.

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