Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, starts in the lining of the stomach and grows slowly over the course of several years. This form of cancer causes few, if any, symptoms. Although stomach cancer can develop anywhere in the organ, most stomach cancers develop in the cells of the mucosa. Once stomach cancer grows beyond the stomach wall, it can spread through the bloodstream or reach the lymphatic system. If you have concerns, you can trust us to for education, early detection and screening, what to expect and next steps after a diagnosis.
When you’re diagnosed, every day counts. If you are diagnosed with stomach cancer, we’ll help you review and understand your options so you can quickly move to treatment.
Stomach cancer detection and diagnosis
Stomach cancer does not usually cause any symptoms in its earliest stages. Often times the earliest symptoms can include upset stomach and general stomach discomfort. Later stage stomach cancer can cause constant stomach pain, indigestion, or discomfort, ongoing heartburn, bloating after eating, mild nausea and fatigue.
As stomach cancer becomes more advanced, the symptoms become more prominent and noticeable. When stomach cancer causes symptoms, they can include:
- Weight loss, when not trying to lose weight
- Abdominal pain, especially in the upper belly
- Trouble swallowing
- Having no appetite, or feeling full after eating a small amount of food
- Feeling tired or short of breath (from a condition called “anemia,” which is when people have too few red blood cells due to bleeding)
All of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions that are not stomach cancer. But if you have these symptoms, tell your doctor or nurse.
Depending your symptoms, a doctor may order various tests, these can include:
- Upper endoscopy – This is the test most often done for stomach cancer. During this test, the doctor puts a thin tube with a camera and light on the end into the mouth and down into the stomach. This lets the doctor look at the stomach lining and also allows the doctor to take a biopsy (a sample of tissue) to test for cancer.
- Biopsy – Doctors do this test during an upper endoscopy. During a biopsy, the doctor takes a small sample of tissue from an abnormal-looking area of the stomach. Then another doctor looks at the tissue under a microscope to determine if it is cancer, or in some cases can show pre-cancer.
- Blood tests – Test levels in your blood, can test for anemia to see if you are bleeding (some stomach cancers can cause bleeding inside the stomach)
- Imaging tests of the stomach, such as a CT scan or ultrasound – Imaging tests create pictures of the inside of the body to look at all the organs on the inside. This can look for signs that the cancer has spread to other organs as well.
Your doctor will also check for H. pylori infection. Doctors can do this in different ways, including breath tests, blood tests, and other lab tests.
Read about our imaging services, read more about biopsies and endoscopies.
Learn more about stomach cancer and how it is diagnosed.
Innovative techniques and technologies offered
We target stomach tumors with some of the most advanced treatments and technology available. In the hands of our experts, tools such as these can lead to optimal results and improved survival rates. Throughout our system, our advanced offerings include:
- da Vinci® robot – A robotic surgical system designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach. This system enables surgeons to make smaller, more precise movements with tiny instruments inside your body, which can help you heal more quickly.
- TrueBeam™– A medical device that delivers a radiation beam to target cancer while exposing healthy cells to minimal radiation. No incisions are made; the noninvasive device rotates around the patient, delivering the radiation dose from different angles.
You will need to call your local hospital to learn which of these options are available in your area.
Talking with healthcare providers about your stomach cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. It helps to be prepared with questions to ask during your appointments.