Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Endoscopic Examination

How is cancer diagnosed?

There is no single test that can accurately diagnose cancer. The complete evaluation of a patient usually requires a thorough history and physical examination along with diagnostic testing. Many tests are needed to determine whether a person has cancer, or if another condition (such as an infection) is mimicking the symptoms of cancer.

Effective diagnostic testing is used to confirm or eliminate the presence of disease, monitor the disease process, and to plan for and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. In some cases, it is necessary to repeat testing when a person’s condition has changed, if a sample collected was not of good quality, or an abnormal test result needs to be confirmed.

Diagnostic procedures for cancer may include imaging, laboratory tests (including tests for tumor markers), tumor biopsy, endoscopic examination, surgery, or genetic testing.

What are the different types endoscopic examinations?

An endoscope is a small, flexible tube with a light and a lens on the end used to look into the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, or rectum. It can also be used to take tissue from the body for testing or to take color photographs of the inside of the body. Cystoscopes, colonoscopes, and sigmoidoscopes are types of endoscopes and are described below:

Illustration demonstrating a colonoscopy, part 1

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Illustration demonstrating a colonoscopy, part 2

Illustration demonstrating upper endoscopy, part 1

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Illustration demonstrating upper endoscopy, part 2
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Illustration demonstrating upper endoscopy, part 3

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