Patient Information - Diagnosis
Diagnosis is made through a number of different techniques. Once it is confirmed that you have cancer of the oesophagus, the cancer will be staged, which means that clarification of its advancement will be made.
Generally the first procedure that you will encounter is a CT scan. All going well you may proceed to an Endoscopic Ultrasound, which serves to identify the extent of the cancer. Finally, you may undergo a laparoscopy, a small operation whereby a small incision under your belly button allows the surgeon to insert a camera and make a visual examination of the lower areas that may be affected.
There are three elements to staging - T (for Tumour), N (for Nodes), and M (for Metastases). This results in a code that medics will use to refer to the extent of your cancer - for many this will be T3 N1 M0.
As shown in the diagram, T1 is a fairly superficial cancer inside the oesophagus. T2 and T3 cancers tend to have worked their way into the muscle and even to the ouside of the oesophagus, and T4 is the most severe type of tumour, having worked through the outer surface of the oesophagus.
A cancer classed as N0 means that it has not affected the glands surrounding your oesophagus, whereas a N1 cancer means that nodes are involved.
Metastases refer to whether the cancer has spread to other organs in your bosy. M1 means that other organs are afffected, but M0 means that the cancer has not spread.