How we diagnose digestive cancer
The first step in diagnosis is a thorough physical examination. The doctor also may order blood tests and recommend one or more imaging tests or interventional procedures.
These tests take detailed pictures of the stomach, liver, esophagus, and gallbladder:
- Computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
- Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatoghraphy (MRCP)
- Octreotide scans
These procedures help confirm a diagnosis and usually involve mild sedation -- you’ll feel like you’re asleep. The doctor will use a lighted microscope to look down the throat or in the abdomen to examine the gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, and liver).
- Biopsy: The doctor will remove a small piece of the growth or tumor to determine if it is cancerous and recommend the best course of treatment.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedure (ERCP): The doctor will use the SpyGlass Direct Visualization System to examine the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. This advanced fiber optic camera helps the doctor see the organs better.
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS): The doctor will use ultrasound equipment to look at the stomach and liver through a tube in the throat.
- Laparoscopic surgery: In this exploratory surgery, the surgeon inserts a tiny camera into the abdomen through a keyhole-sized incision.