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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Endoscopy Q&As

My father had a gland removed from his neck which showed cancer. His doctors have said he needs a panendoscopy. What is this?

Sometimes the first sign of a cancer in the mouth, throat or nasal spaces is a swollen lymph gland in the neck (due to spread of cancer cells to the gland). If a simple examination fails to find the site of the original (primary) cancer in the head and neck area then a panendoscopy is often recommended.

A panendoscopy is a systematic search through the upper part of the digestive and respiratory passages to look for cancer. It is carried out under a general anaesthetic and includes the surgeon looking directly at and feeling the various tissues and also using a variety of special flexible telescopes (endoscopes) to get a view of the various tubes and passage ways within the head and neck area.

The examination is done under an anaesthetic and involves inspection of the mouth, the pharynx (the back of the throat), the base of the tongue, the post nasal space (above the soft palate), the larynx (the voice box), the oesophagus (the gullet), the trachea (the airway leading into the lung) the main air passages in the lung. Tissue samples (biopsies) will be taken from any abnormal looking areas and also from the post-nasal space and base of the tongue (where there can be tumour tissue that is not very obvious to the naked eye). Sometimes the panendoscopy will also include removal of the tonsils if there is any suspicion that they may contain cancer.

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