While the exact cause of esophageal cancer is unknown, there are certain lifestyle risk factors and esophageal conditions that are often associated with the disease.

Esophageal cancer symptoms are subtle. If you have chronic acid reflux, you should get checked out by a physician.

Your John Muir Health physician helps you understand how a chronic acid reflux condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) could potentially lead to cancer. We are also on the vanguard of using minimally invasive preventive techniques to destroy cells in the esophagus that could potentially lead to cancer.

Esophageal Cancer Diagnosis

The symptoms for esophageal cancer – difficulty swallowing, indigestion, a chronic cough – are often shared with lesser maladies, which is why it is important to see a physician if you are experiencing these symptoms regularly. John Muir Health uses a number of diagnostic tests to quickly get a definitive reading on your condition.

Barium Swallow – Typically the first test given to symptomatic patients, we will ask you to swallow a barium solution to illuminate the esophagus then use a fluoroscope to see if we notice any defects.

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) – A minimally invasive procedure in which the physician inserts an ultrasound probe through your mouth in order to obtain images inside the esophagus, helping us analyze any abnormalities.

Endoscopy ­– Similar to EUS because a camera-mounted probe is inserted into the patient’s mouth and guided into the esophagus to search for any abnormalities, except in this procedure we collect tissue samples for a microscopic evaluation. 

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan – A computer-enhanced X-ray especially useful for detecting smaller tumors, enlarged lymph nodes, or metastases to other parts of the body.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan – This non-invasive procedure may be used in conjunction with a CT scan and helps us track any abnormal metabolic activity within the body.

Learn about how we treat esophageal cancer

KTVU Video

John Muir Health demonstrates latest non-invasive approach to Esophageal Cancer.

View video
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