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Making a Diagnosis

There are several assessments and tests available to determine if someone has developed esophageal cancer.

The first step is to review the patient's complete medical history, including symptoms, such as dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), existing medical conditions (Barrett's esophagus or GERD), and alcohol and tobacco use.

Following a medical history, the patient will undergo a physical examination including a close inspection of the lymph nodes. Blood tests, including a complete blood count, will be done along with liver function tests and a chest X-ray. Additional tests may include:

  • Barium Swallow: The patient is given liquid barium (a metallic compound) while a series of X-rays are taken.

  • Esophagoscopy: A lighted scope (tube) is passed through the mouth and into the esophagus to allow for direct visualization of any abnormalities, which can then be biopsied (tissue samples taken).

The Thoracic Oncology Program at NYU Medical Center can provide assistance at any phase of the diagnosis. Our multidisciplinary approach provides a cornerstone for patients who visit NYU for an opinion about the treatment of esophageal cancer.

NYU doctors who treat esophageal cancer include:

Surgeons: Harvey I. Pass, M.D., Costas Bizekis, M.D., Michael Zervos, M.D.
Gastroenterologist: David Diehl, M.D.
Medical Oncologists: Abraham Chachoua, M.D., Howard Hochster, M.D.
Radiation Oncologist: Anurag Chandra, M.D.