Esophageal Cancer Biopsy & Pathology

Your doctors will want to remove some tissue or fluid from your body to examine it under a microscope. Once your doctors have removed a small piece of tissue or fluid from your esophagus, they send it to a pathologist to be evaluated. Biopsy and pathology reviews are the only way to accurately identify cancer.

Sometimes a biopsy will show you have a condition that is not yet cancerous but which may lead to cancer. Your doctors may remove the tissue using a needle or while doing an endoscopic examination. They may use results of some diagnostic imaging tests to recommend a particular type of biopsy.  


Your pathologist, who is board certified, will look at your tissue samples under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present. Biopsy and pathology reviews are the only way to accurately identify cancer. Your pathologist also will check for the specific type of cancer, indications of how far it has spread and whether it has tumor markers which could help your doctors recommend treatment. Knowing the exact type of cancer you have will help your doctors devise a better treatment plan for you.  

  • HER2 testing

    Your pathologist also may test your tissue for a protein called HER2. Officially it’s called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. If you have cancer you may have too much HER2 due to a gene mutation. Higher than average amounts of HER2 proteins are found in about one of every five esophageal cancer cases. These cancers may respond to drugs which target HER2.

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