Many people are hesitant about undergoing endoscopic procedures, but a little understanding can go a long way in easing their fears. These types of tests are common and play a very important role in diagnosing and treating multiple types of health conditions and cancers within the gastrointestinal tract.
Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a person’s digestive tract. Using an endoscope, which is simply a camera attached to the end of a long flexible tube, we are able to explore the different organs along the digestive tract to search for signs of potential disease.
The most well known, and probably most intimidating, endoscopic procedure is the colonoscopy. In this procedure, we insert the endoscope into the rectum and slowly examine up through the colon. We are looking for early signs of cancer in the rectum and lower intestines.
We also use endoscopy to search the upper digestive tract, and this is known as an upper endoscopy. In this procedure, we insert the endoscope through the mouth and down the esophagus allowing us to examine the stomach and upper part of the intestines.
Here at Roswell Park, we have the technology and know-how to perform endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). Performed only at specialized centers, EUS allows us to obtain high-quality ultrasound images. The tool used is much like a traditional endoscope, but rather than a regular camera, there is a small ultrasound device at the end of the tube.
EUS is used oftentimes to take a more detailed examination of a cancer that was found using a regular endoscopy. For instance, we use this to help determine the stage of many types of cancers along the gastrointestinal tract. Because it allows for more sensitive and detailed imagery, EUS can also be extremely useful for diagnosing previously undiagnosed cancers in the most non-invasive way possible.