Tests that examine the esophagus are used to detect (find) and diagnose esophageal cancer. The following tests and procedures may be used:
- Chest X-ray: An X-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An X-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
- Barium swallow: A series of X-rays of the esophagus and stomach. The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound). The liquid coats the esophagus and X-rays are taken. This procedure is also called an upper GI series.Barium swallow. The patient swallows barium liquid and it flows through the esophagus and into the stomach. X-rays are taken to look for abnormal areas.
- Esophagoscopy: A procedure to look inside the esophagus to check for abnormal areas. An esophagoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted through the mouth or nose and down the throat into the esophagus. Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy. Esophagoscopy. A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the mouth and into the esophagus to look for abnormal areas.
- Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer. The biopsy is usually done during an esophagoscopy. Sometimes a biopsy shows changes in the esophagus that are not cancer but may lead to cancer.