Diagnosis of Gastric Cancer

Diagnosis of Gastric Cancer

Symptoms

Early stomach cancer often does not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, the most common symptoms are:
  • Discomfort or pain in the stomach area
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling full or bloated after a small meal
  • Vomiting blood or having blood in the stool

Diagnosis of Gastric Cancer

If you have symptoms that suggest stomach cancer, you may have some or all of these tests to diagnose stomach cancer:
  • Physical exam: Your doctor feels your abdomen for fluid, swelling, or other changes. Your doctor also will check for swollen lymph nodes.
  • Endoscopy: Your doctor uses a thin, lighted tube (endoscope) to look into your stomach. Your doctor first numbs your throat with an anesthetic spray. You also may receive medicine to help you relax. The tube is passed through your mouth and esophagus to the stomach.
  • Biopsy: An endoscope has a tool for removing tissue. Your doctor uses the endoscope to remove tissue from the stomach. A pathologist checks the tissue under a microscope for cancer cells. A biopsy is the only sure way to know if cancer cells are present.

Staging

If the biopsy shows that you have stomach cancer, it is important for your health care provider to know the stage or the extent of the disease. It helps know if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Following tests may be done to know the extent of the disease:
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Laparoscopy
These are the stages of stomach cancer:
  • Stage 0: The tumor is found only in the inner layer of the stomach. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.
  • Stage I is one of the following:
    • The tumor has invaded only the submucosa. Cancer cells may be found in up to 6 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Stage II is one of the following:
    • The tumor has invaded only the submucosa. Cancer cells have spread to 7 to 15 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have spread to 1 to 6 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has penetrated the outer layer of the stomach. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Stage III is one of the following:
    • The tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have spread to 7 to 15 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has penetrated the outer layer. Cancer cells have spread to 1 to 15 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has invaded nearby organs, such as the liver, colon, or spleen. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or to distant organs.
  • Stage IV is one of the following:
    • Cancer cells have spread to more than 15 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has invaded nearby organs and at least 1 lymph node.
    • Or, cancer cells have spread to distant organs.
If you have symptoms associated with gastric cancer, contact us to request an appointment with our oncology specialists to begin diagnostic testing.