Find out what to expect when you come to hospital for your appointment.

Before your appointment

You will be seen within a week of your referral. You will be sent a letter to attend an appointment or diagnostic test with our gastroenterology team. This letter will outline any preparation needed before your appointment.

We encourage you to bring a partner, relative, close friend or carer to your appointments, as you will need to discuss your condition, which could mean discussing good or bad news.

Please wear comfortable loose-fitting clothes, as you may need to undress in order for some investigations or examinations to be performed.

If you are taking any medication at home it would be helpful if you could bring that with you to your appointment.

The most common first diagnostic test will be a gastroscopy (also called endoscopy or ‘OGD’), which is a small camera passed through your mouth and down your throat to visualise the lining of your oesophagus or stomach. This investigation can be performed at Charing Cross, Hammersmith or St Mary’s hospitals so please make sure you know where your appointment is booked prior to the day.

If you fail to attend your appointment once, or cancel your appointment on two occasions, you will be discharged back to your GP or original referrer.

During your appointment

When you arrive please self check-in at the clinic reception, listed in your appointment letter.

Please note that we are a teaching hospital, so medical students may be present for some appointments. If you do not wish to have them in the room please let the nurse or doctor know and the students will be asked to step outside.

At your first appointment a senior member of the team, either a senior doctor or a senior specialist nurse, will meet you and assess your case. This may take anything from half an hour to forty minutes depending on the diagnosis and findings in clinic.

The clinician reviewing you will ask you questions about your symptoms, past medical history, social situation, any medication or allergies and your family’s medical history.

After these questions it may be necessary to perform an abdominal examination, where you lie on a couch and the clinician will examine your abdomen for any abnormalities. The clinician may then decide to refer you for further investigation, all of which will be explained to you.

After your appointment

If during your appointment a clinician recommended that you have a gastroscopy you will be asked to deliver a request form to the endoscopy department so you can be allocated a date. You should receive a call two to seven days after this to confirm your availability for the test, followed by a letter once a date is confirmed with you.

If the clinician wanted you to have a CT scan, MRI scan, barium scan, EUS or staging laparoscopy the clinician will book these electronically in the clinic and the scanning department will contact you by letter informing you when the test will take place.

If a diagnosis of cancer is made, the exact location and grade of the cancer determines the treatment you will have. This can only be decided once all investigations have been completed. Your case will be discussed at a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting where all clinical experts in oesophageal and gastric cancer look in detail at your scans and other results of investigations.

This is a bit like having another opinion without you being present for the meeting. The team will decide on the best course of treatment they recommend for your case. Oesophago-gastric cancer is usually treated with surgery (with either a gastrectomy or oesophagectomy), chemotherapy or radiotherapy or sometimes a combination of all three.

After your initial appointment a letter will be sent to your GP outlining the findings of your appointment. You will be sent a copy of this letter.

Macmillan navigators

As part of the Macmillan Cancer Support and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust partnership, we’ve introduced the Macmillan cancer navigators service.

Macmillan navigators offer a single phone contact for all cancer patients. They can help with booking appointments, accessing local support services and finding answers to any questions. Please call the Macmillan navigators team with any questions you have about your cancer care. Learn more about Macmillan navigators.

Patient information leaflets