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Can I Be Screened for Esophageal Cancer?

gastroscope
Gastroscope: This instrument is used for an endoscopy of the esophagus.

Screening tests check for signs of cancer in people who don’t have any symptoms. There is no standard screening test for the early detection of esophageal cancer that is recommended for the general population. If you have risk factors or symptoms linked to esophageal cancer, you might want to talk with your doctor about screening. Or he or she may raise the idea of screening with you.  

Your doctor may request a test to view your esophagus. This test is called an esophageal endoscopy. For this test, a doctor uses a thin, lighted tube called an endoscope to look inside your esophagus. It has a tiny camera on the end of it that lets your doctor see pictures on a monitor. You will be told not to eat or drink anything for about six hours before the test. Before the test, you may be given local anesthetic to numb the area. You may also get a sedative to make you sleepy.

If the lining of your esophagus looks unusual, the doctor can take a small sample of tissue, called a biopsy, to test for cancer or other problems. Your doctor can also request other tests to see if you have esophageal cancer.

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