Stomach Cancer Diagnosis & Detection
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Video: Diagnosing Stomach CancerDiagnosing Stomach Cancer
Diagnosing Stomach Cancer
Discover how stomach cancer is diagnosed. Gastroenterologist Dr. Leon Yoder explains in this video.
Diagnostic Tests, Tools & Procedures for Stomach Cancer
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we use sophisticated, high-tech diagnostic imaging equipment and perform endoscopic procedures to ensure that you receive an accurate stomach cancer diagnosis.
Endoscopic procedures/tests for stomach cancer
Our gastroenterologists (doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating digestive system diseases/disorders) use imaging guidance and innovative tools that aid in diagnosing, staging and treating stomach cancer. These minimally invasive, outpatient procedures allow us to see inside the stomach.
- EGD – Known as an upper endoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD, this is the primary test for diagnosing stomach cancer. To undergo an EGD procedure, you first receive medication which sedates you (i.e., makes you relaxed and sleepy). Your gastroenterologist then inserts an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) into your mouth. He or she passes the endoscope through your throat, down into your esophagus and stomach, and into the first part of your small intestine. The endoscope enables your gastroenterologist to see inside these organs to check for abnormalities such as tumors, ulcers, obstructions and inflammation. He or she obtains biopsies of abnormal tissue through the endoscope. The tissue is then analyzed in our laboratory to determine if cancer is present. An EGD procedure takes approximately 15 minutes to perform.
- EUS – Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) helps your gastroenterologist examine your stomach and organs such as your pancreas, liver, gallbladder and bile duct. This test for stomach cancer uses sound waves to identify tumors and nearby lymph nodes to which the cancer may have spread. EUS allows your gastroenterologist to determine if cancer has spread through multiple layers of your stomach, helping your doctors to stage the disease and tailor your treatment plan.
Diagnostic imaging tests for stomach cancer
Our doctors use a number of diagnostic imaging tests to detect and pinpoint stomach cancer and help determine the stage of the disease. These tests help our doctors make an accurate stomach cancer diagnosis and formulate treatment recommendations that are best suited to you.
- CT – Computed tomography (CT) scans are taken to reveal detailed images of your abdomen. These tests help our doctors determine where the cancer is in your stomach and if it has spread to other abdominal organs. CT scans may be taken at various points throughout your stomach cancer treatment, as the tests help gauge whether treatment is working. CT scans typically require 10 to 15 minutes to perform, and can be taken with or without contrast dye.
- MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is another diagnostic imaging tool used for stomach cancer. MRI machines’ strong magnetic fields and radio waves produce detailed images, showing greater soft tissue contrast than CT scans. These tests may be taken with or without contrast dye, and take approximately an hour to perform.
- PET/CT – This tool merges two diagnostic imaging technologies: positron emission tomography (PET) and CT. You receive both scans in a single imaging session. A radioactive sugar solution is first administered into one of your veins. The sugar accumulates in cancerous areas of your body. PET scans taken indicate where these areas exist. PET/CT helps our doctors determine if the stomach cancer has spread.
- Abdominal Ultrasound – If there is fluid in your abdomen, your doctor may use this tool when diagnosing stomach cancer. Ultrasound produces images of organs from high-energy sound waves and echoes. It may be used to check for tumors in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and kidneys.
- Upper Gastrointestinal Series – For this test, you first drink a chalky solution containing barium. The solution travels down your digestive tract, coating your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. A series of X-rays are then taken. The X-rays are reflected by the barium-coated organs, producing images which show abnormal areas your doctors may need to look at more closely in an endoscopic procedure or another diagnostic imaging test for stomach cancer.
Laboratory tests for stomach cancer
Lab tests, including biopsies and blood tests, help our doctors determine the extent of stomach cancer and follow the progress of your cancer treatment.
- Biopsy – Our pathologists (doctors who specialize in diagnosing and classifying diseases by using laboratory tests) analyze tissue samples and lymph nodes under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present.
- CBC Test – Complete blood count (CBC) tests determine the numbers of the different types of cells in the blood. A CBC test can be particularly helpful in determining whether you have too few red blood cells, which causes anemia.
- Tumor Marker Tests – These blood tests may be used in addition to other tests if you have already received a stomach cancer diagnosis and are being treated for the disease. Tumor marker tests check for substances in the blood that digestive cancers may produce, such as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and CA-19. The tests help doctors monitor the effectiveness of treatment. A rise in tumor marker levels may signal progression of the disease or a recurrence.
- Liver Function Tests – These blood tests may be done to assess the function of your liver, an organ to which stomach cancer can spread.
Next Topic: Stomach Cancer Staging