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Stomach Cancer

How Is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed?

Your health care provider can often detect advanced stomach cancer by performing a physical exam. He or she may find enlarged lymph nodes, an enlarged liver, increased fluid in the abdomen (ascites), or abdominal lumps felt during a rectal exam.

However, if you are having vague symptoms, such as indigestion, weight loss, nausea, and loss of appetite, screening tests may be recommended. These tests may include:

  • Upper GI series. These are X-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the intestine taken after you drink a barium solution. The barium outlines the stomach on the X-ray, which helps the doctor, using special imaging equipment, to find tumors or other abnormal areas.
  • Gastroscopy and biopsy. This test examines the esophagus and stomach using a thin, lighted tube called a gastroscope, which is passed through the mouth to the stomach. Through the gastroscope, the doctor can look directly at the inside of the stomach. If an abnormal area is found, the doctor will remove some tissue (biopsy) to be examined under a microscope. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose cancer. Gastroscopy and biopsy are the best methods of identifying stomach cancer.

Once stomach cancer is diagnosed, more tests may be done to determine if the cancer has spread. These tests may include CT scans, PET scans, bone scans, laparoscopy and endoscopic ultrasound.

How Is Stomach Cancer Treated?

Stomach cancer may be treated with the following, in combination, or alone:

  • Surgery, called gastrectomy, to remove all or part of the stomach, as well as some of the tissue surrounding the stomach.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Radiation therapy.

What Is the Prognosis for People With Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer is difficult to cure unless it is found at an early stage before it has spread. Unfortunately, because early stomach cancer has few symptoms, the disease is usually advanced when the diagnosis is made. However, advanced stomach cancer can be treated and the symptoms can be relieved.




WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arnold Wax, MD on June 25, 2012

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