You usually start by seeing your GP if you have symptoms. They examine you and might refer you for tests or to a specialist.

You might have one or more of these tests to find out the cause of your symptoms, or to find out the size of your cancer and whether it has spread. This tells you the stage of your cancer.

Knowing the stage helps your doctor decide which treatment you need. 


An endoscopy is a test to look inside your body. Your doctor might take samples of any abnormal areas (biopsies) during the endoscopy. 

CT scan

You might have a CT scan of your stomach, chest and the area between your hips (pelvis) to find out where the cancer is and whether it has spread.


Laparoscopy is a small operation to look inside your tummy (abdomen). Doctors use it to find out if cancer of the food pipe (oesophagus) has spread.

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) for oesophageal cancer

You might have an endoscopic ultrasound scan (EUS) if you have cancer of the oesophagus. This is to help find out the size of the cancer and whether it has spread. 

PET-CT scan

A PET-CT scan combines a CT scan and a PET scan into one. It can show where your oesophageal cancer is and whether it has spread.

Last reviewed: 
13 Sep 2019
Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer