Tests and next steps
A GP or specialist will probably refer you for a test to look inside your oesophagus.
This test is called a gastroscopy (a type of endoscopy). It looks for any problems in your oesophagus or stomach, including oesophageal cancer.
During a gastroscopy:
- A long, thin, flexible tube with a small camera inside (called an endoscope) will be put into your mouth and down your oesophagus.
- A specialist will use the camera in the endoscope to look for any problems.
- A small sample of cells (called a biopsy) may be collected during the procedure. These cells will be sent to a laboratory to check for cancer.
The test should take around 10 to 15 minutes.
It should not be painful, but you might find it uncomfortable.
You may be offered things to make you more comfortable and make the test easier, such as:
- a spray to numb the back of your throat (local anaesthetic)
- sedation – medicine given through a small tube in your arm to help you relax
- putting you to sleep (general anaesthetic)
A gastroscopy can also help find problems in other nearby organs. Such as your stomach and the first part of the bowels (small intestine).
Getting your results
You should get the results of a gastroscopy and biopsy within 2 weeks.
Try not to worry if your results are taking longer to get to you. It does not definitely mean anything is wrong.
You can call the hospital or GP if you are worried. They should be able to update you.
A specialist will explain what the results mean and what will happen next. You may want to bring someone with you for support.
If you're told you have oesophageal cancer
Being told you have oesophageal cancer can feel overwhelming. You may be feeling anxious about what will happen next.
It can help to bring someone with you to any appointments you have.
A group of specialists will look after you throughout your diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
Your team will include a clinical nurse specialist who will be your main point of contact during and after treatment.
You can ask them any questions you have.
Macmillan Cancer Support has a free helpline that's open every day from 8am to 8pm.
They're there to listen if you have anything you want to talk about.
If you've been told you have oesophageal cancer, you will need more tests.
These, along with the camera test, will help the specialists find out the size of the cancer and how far it's spread (called the stage).
Find out more about what cancer stages and grades mean.
You may need:
- scans, like an ultrasound scan (sometimes from inside your body using an endoscope), CT scan, or PET scan
- a small operation to look inside your tummy, called a laparoscopy
You may not have all these tests.
The specialists will use the results of these tests and work with you to decide on the best treatment plan for you.