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What are the staging tests for esophageal cancer?

Your doctor may order one or more of the following staging tests:

Endoscopic ultrasound: The doctor passes a thin, lighted tube (endoscope) down your throat, which has been numbed with anesthetic. A probe at the end of the tube sends out sound waves that you can't hear. The waves bounce off tissues in your esophagus and nearby organs. A computer creates a picture from the echoes. The picture can show how deeply the cancer has invaded the wall of the esophagus. The doctor may use a needle to take tissue samples of lymph nodes. CT scan: An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of your chest and abdomen. Doctors use CT scans to look for esophageal cancer that has spread to lymph nodes and other areas. You may receive contrast material by mouth or by injection into a blood vessel. The contrast material makes abnormal areas easier to see. MRI: A strong magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside your body. An MRI can show whether cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other areas. Sometimes contrast material is given by injection into your blood vessel. The contrast material makes abnormal areas show up more clearly on the picture. PET scan: You receive an injection of a small amount of radioactive sugar. The radioactive sugar gives off signals that the PET scanner picks up. The PET scanner makes a picture of the places in your body where the sugar is being taken up. Cancer cells show up brighter in the picture because they take up sugar faster than normal cells do. A PET scan shows whether esophageal cancer may have spread. Bone scan: You get an injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance. It travels through the bloodstream and collects in the bones. A machine called a scanner detects and measures the radiation. The scanner makes pictures of the bones. The pictures may show cancer that has spread to the bones. Laparoscopy: After you are given general anesthesia, the surgeon makes small incisions (cuts) in your abdomen. The surgeon inserts a thin, lighted tube (laparoscope) into the abdomen. Lymph nodes or other tissue samples may be removed to check for cancer cells.

This Answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

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