Investigations and diagnosis

This usually begins with your GP, who will ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing and your general health before examining you. Your GP may also take some blood tests.

Your GP may arrange for you to have an urgent gastroscopy (commonly called an endoscopy) at your local hospital. 

An endoscopy involves an examination to look inside the upper digestive tract using a flexible tube with a tiny camera attached which passes through the oesophagus (food pipe) and stomach. Samples (biopsies) may be taken of any abnormal looking areas.

Some patients are sent for a barium swallow or barium meal following their endoscopy if they require further investigations. This investigation involves drinking a white chalky liquid which helps show up the oesophagus and stomach on a series of x-rays. However very few people have this test. 

When tests are complete, the patient will receive a clinic appointment to discuss the results with their local hospital team. At this appointment, patients will find out if they have cancer.  If a cancer is confirmed and a patient lives outside the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust catchment area, they may be referred to the Specialist Oesophago-gastric Multi-disciplinary team in the Belfast Trust. In some situations they may be treated at their local hospital.

Further Tests  

If these tests confirm oesophageal or gastric cancer, the patient may require further tests to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This is known as staging cancer. The patient may also have some tests arranged to assess general fitness.

These tests will include: