Stomach cancer is diagnosed using several tests and procedures, following an examination of your health, lifestyle and family history.
These tests include:
A biopsy is a procedure to collect tissue or cell samples, which are then analysed for the presence of cancer cells.
Analysis of your blood may reveal the presence of certain substances or markers that point towards cancer. A complete blood count is also helpful to measure if red and white blood cells, platelets and haemoglobin levels are within the normal range.
A CT scan provides detailed images of internal organs and tissues to check if and how far the cancer has spread. It may be performed with a dye for greater clarity.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the tumour, to see how far it has spread. It may also be used to check the lymph nodes around the tumour.
An endoscope is a small device with a camera. It is inserted via the mouth to view the inside of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first section of the small intestine).
A chemical, barium, is consumed to line the oesophagus and stomach, allowing anomalies to show up more clearly on X-ray.
Treatment for stomach cancer depends on how far it has spread. It includes:
This procedure uses an endoscope to remove cancer in its early stages.
Surgery to remove the stomach is called a gastrectomy. It is performed to remove part or all of the stomach, which may also include removal of nearby lymph nodes, the spleen, and parts of the oesophagus or small intestine. Surgery can nowadays be done using minimal invasive procedures such as a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
Chemotherapy may be recommended to kill cancer cells or stop the cancer cells from spreading. It may also help to reduce the symptoms of stomach cancer if surgery is not possible.
Radiotherapy uses high-energy X-rays to destroy remaining cancer cells after surgery. It may be recommended in conjunction with chemotherapy.
Targeted therapy is aimed at specific cancer cells to stop the growth and spread of a tumour. It is associated with milder side effects when compared to chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Immunotherapy uses medications to enhance your body’s immune system to fight cancer.