Endoscopic Exam for Cancer
How is cancer diagnosed?
There is no single test that can accurately diagnose cancer. It usually needs a thorough
history and physical exam along with diagnostic testing. Many tests are needed to
determine whether a person has cancer, or if another condition (such as an infection)
is mimicking the symptoms of cancer. Effective diagnostic testing is used to confirm
or eliminate the presence of disease, monitor the disease process, and plan for and
evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. In some cases, it is necessary to repeat
testing when your condition has changed. Also, if a sample collected was not of good
quality, or an abnormal test result needs to be confirmed. Diagnostic procedures for
cancer may include imaging, lab tests (including tests for tumor markers), tumor biopsy,
endoscopic exam, surgery, or genetic testing.
What are some of the different types of endoscopic exams?
An endoscope is a small, flexible tube with a light and a lens or tiny video camera
on the end used to look into the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, rectum, or other
organs. It can also be used to take tissue from the body for testing or to take color
photographs of the inside of the body. Several types of endoscopes are described below:
Colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows the healthcare provider to view the entire
length of the large intestine (colon). It can often help identify abnormal growths,
inflamed tissue, ulcers, and bleeding. It involves inserting a colonoscope, a long,
flexible, lighted tube. It is inserted in through the rectum up into the colon. The
colonoscope allows the healthcare provider to see the lining of the colon, remove
tissue for further exam, and possibly treat some problems that are discovered.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). ERCP is a procedure that allows the healthcare provider to diagnose and treat problems
in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas. The procedure combines X-ray
and the use of an endoscope. This is a long, flexible, lighted tube. The scope is
guided through the person's mouth and throat, then through the esophagus, stomach,
and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The healthcare provider can
examine the inside of these organs and detect any abnormalities. A tube is then passed
through the scope and a dye is injected. This will allow the internal organs to appear
on an X-ray.
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (also called EGD or upper endoscopy). An EGD (upper endoscopy) is a procedure that allows the healthcare provider to examine
the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. A thin, flexible, lighted tube,
called an endoscope, is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus,
stomach, and duodenum. The endoscope allows the healthcare provider to view the inside
of this area of the body. It also allows the healthcare provider to insert instruments
through a scope for the removal of a sample of tissue for biopsy (if necessary).
Sigmoidoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows the healthcare provider to examine
the inside of a portion of the large intestine, and can be helpful in identifying
the causes of diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation, abnormal growths, and bleeding.
A short, flexible, lighted tube, called a sigmoidoscope, is inserted into the intestine
through the rectum. The scope blows air into the intestine to inflate it and make
viewing the inside easier.
Bronchoscopy. A bronchoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows the healthcare provider to examine
the inside of the trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (large airways leading into the lungs).
A short, flexible, lighted tube, called a bronchoscope, is inserted through the mouth
or nose. Samples of tissue may be removed through the bronchoscope for exam under
a microscope in the lab.
Cystoscopy. An exam in which a cystoscope, a flexible tube and viewing device, is inserted through
the urethra to examine the bladder and urinary tract for structural abnormalities
or obstructions, such as tumors or stones. Samples of the bladder tissue may be removed
through the cystoscope for exam under a microscope in the lab.
Laryngoscopy. An exam that allows your healthcare provider to use a laryngoscope to see the back
of your throat, voice box, and vocal cords.