Diagnostic Tests for Stomach Cancer
Patients often learn about stomach cancer when they go to the doctor after experiencing weight loss, persistent vomiting, indigestion, and anemia.
Once in the clinic or hospital, the doctor conducts a thorough medical interview and physical exam. The interview gives you better insight into the signs and symptoms, as well as risk factors. The physical exam, on the other hand, uncovers physical changes that may relate to stomach cancer.
If the doctor sees enough evidence to suspect cancer, he may ask you to undergo the following diagnostic tests:
Endoscopy and biopsy
We cannot talk about how stomach cancer is diagnosed and treated without discussing endoscopy. Endoscopy, also called gastroscopy, upper endoscopy, or esophagoscopy, allows the doctor to see the lining of your stomach.
Listen carefully when your doctor talks about preparations which usually include fasting for 6 to 8 hours before the endoscopy.
During the procedure:
- The doctor will spray anesthesia in your throat to prevent discomfort.
- They will then insert a thin, flexible tube into your mouth, down to your esophagus, and finally into your stomach.
- Attached at the end of the tube are the light source and small camera that allows the doctor to see if there are abnormalities in the stomach lining.
- If the doctor sees a suspicious area, he may get a small tissue sample and send it to the laboratory for further evaluation (biopsy).
A typical endoscopy lasts for about 15 minutes. Since you’re under anesthesia, ask someone to accompany you home. Finally, keep in mind that an endoscopy may lead to some side effects such as sore throat and bloating.
In case your doctor suspects cancer in the upper part of your stomach, he may order an endoscopic ultrasound.
This procedure can be done simultaneously with an endoscopy. In an endoscopic ultrasound, the doctor attaches an ultrasound probe at the end of the endoscope. The probe releases sound waves that bounce when it comes in contact with something solid, such as an organ or a tumor.
Doctors use the images to determine if cancer has spread to the liver, adrenal glands, lymph nodes, and other body parts.