Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Endoscopy for head and neck cancer

Endoscopy for head and neck cancer

An endoscope may be inserted into the mouth or nose so that your doctor can examine hard-to-see areas of the head and neck, such as the larynx and behind the nose.

What is an endoscopy?

We use endoscopy to examine areas inside the body to diagnose, stage and treat cancer.

In an endoscopy, an endoscope (a thin, tube-like device equipped with a camera) is inserted into the body through an opening (e.g., the mouth, anus or urethra) or small incision. Images of areas inside the body can then be seen on a screen.

This technology allows us to explore, in detail, internal structures of the body, such as the esophagus, colon, rectum, stomach and chest.

Endoscopies have a wide variety of uses. We may use endoscopies to:

  • Detect cancer
  • Diagnose a problem or condition
  • Take biopsies or tissue samples
  • Locate and remove cancerous (or pre-cancerous) tissue
  • Remove blockages, such as in the lungs
  • Determine if cancer has spread

There are many different kinds of endoscopes or "scopes," which are designed to examine certain parts of the body. Some scopes are hollow, while others have miniature video cameras attached to the end.

An endoscopy is minimally invasive, usually takes less time in the operating room and requires a smaller incision than traditional surgery, which helps to reduce blood loss.