Endoscopic Mucosal Resection: Less Invasive Than Surgery
One of the newest treatments for early stages of esophageal cancer is endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR). It's particularly suitable for patients who cannot have surgery. After performing an exam of the region and identifying lesions or tumors that can be removed using this procedure, a highly trained gastroenterologist uses specialized endoscopic tools that lift and cut abnormal lesions or tumors from the superficial lining of the esophagus. Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR) is well suited to removing pre-cancerous lesions endoscopically, including cases of Barrett's esophagus. Because endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) is a less invasive treatment option than surgery, many patients suffering from early-stage cancer or precancerous lesions that may become cancerous often opt for this procedeure.
How to Prepare for Endoscopic Mucosal Resection
Your physician will ask you to provide the following information:
- Your prescription medications, including over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplments (espeically diabetes medications or blood-thinning drugs including aspirin)
- Your dosages of each medication
- If you have any allergeries to any drugs
- All of your past and present medical conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and blood-clotting disorders
- Before beginning endoscopic mucosal resection treatment, your physician may make changes to your medication regimine, such as temporarily halting your usage of blood-thinning medications.
Before an Endoscopic Mucosal Resection Procedure
Your physician's office will send you written instructions about how to start the day before the procedure. Depending on the location of the lesions or the lesions being removed, the instructions may vary slightly. In most cases, your diet may be limited to clear liquids, such as water, broth, tea or coffee without milk or cream. You'll be instructed when to start fasting; you may not be able to eat, drink or smoke at all after midnight of the day before the procedure. If the endoscopic mucosal resection procedure involves the colon, you'll likely be given a colon laxative or an over-the-counter enema kit to empty your bowels completely. You'll also want to arrange for someone to pick you up from the clinic or hospital as the procedure requires sedation.
After the Procedure
In most cases, you'll have a follow-up appointment with your gastroenterologist to go over the outcome of your endoscopic mucosal resection. The main questions you are encouraged to ask include the following:
- Were you able to remove all abnormal tissues?
- What were my laboratory test results? Was there any cancerous tissue?
- Do I need to see a cancer specialist (oncologist)?
- If the tissues are cancerous, will I need additional treatments?
- How will you monitor my condition?
Finally, a follow-up exam will be performed six to 12 months after your endoscopic mucosal resection procedure in order to make sure the entire lesion was removed. Depending on the circumstances, your physician will advise you whether further exams are needed.
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