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Peptic Ulcer Disease - Exams and Tests

Although not all peptic ulcers are caused by bacteria, it's getting more common to do a test for Helicobacter pyloritest for Helicobacter pylori whenever someone has ulcer symptoms. This includes testing your blood, breath, stool, or a sample of tissue from your digestive tract (biopsy).

An endoscopy may be done so that a doctor can:

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  • Look at the inside of your stomach and your upper small intestine to check for an ulcer.
  • Collect a tissue sample (biopsy) that can be tested for H. pylori or cancer.

If you are older than 55, you may need an endoscopy because of a higher risk for stomach cancer. This is especially true if you have:

  • Ulcer symptoms for the first time.
  • Ulcer symptoms that return before or after treatment is completed.
  • A family history of stomach cancer.
  • Other symptoms that may point to a more serious problem, such as stomach cancer. These include:
    • Blood in the stool.
    • Weight loss of more than 10% of body weight.
    • Anemia.
    • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).
    • Jaundice.
    • Abdominal mass.

Other tests that may be done include:

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT). This test may be done to detect blood in the stool, which may be caused by a peptic ulcer or another serious problem, such as colon cancer. By itself, an FOBT cannot diagnose peptic ulcer disease, but it may show if an ulcer is bleeding.
  • Complete blood count (CBC). This blood test may be done to look for anemia, which may be caused by a bleeding ulcer.
  • Upper GI series. This X-ray exam of the esophagus and stomach may be used to diagnose peptic ulcer disease, although this test is being used less frequently.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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