Further tests for stomach cancer
This page is about further tests you might need if you have stomach cancer. There is information on
Further tests for stomach cancer
If your tests show you have stomach cancer you may need further tests to see if the cancer has spread. These tests help your doctor work out the stage of your cancer. And to decide on the best treatment. You may have an endoscopic ultrasound, a CT scan, PET-CT scan or MRI scan, a chest X-ray, blood tests, a laparoscopy and an ultrasound scan of your liver.
After the tests
You usually come back to the hospital to see your specialist when your test results have come through. This is bound to take a little time, even if only a few days. You may feel very anxious during this time.
When you are waiting for results, it may help to talk to your clinical nurse specialist, or a close friend or relative about how you are feeling. Or you may want to contact a cancer support group to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the diagnosing stomach cancer section.
You may have further tests to help your doctor work out the stage of your cancer, and to check if it has spread. These tests also help your doctor to decide on the best treatment. You may already have had some of these tests while your cancer was being diagnosed. If so, you won't need to have them again.
This is a computerised scan using X-rays. You may have a CT scan of your abdomen and chest. The scan can show the size and position of the cancer.
The scan can also show whether the cancer has spread to the liver, lungs or lymph nodes. If the doctor can see changes in the liver but is not sure what they are caused by, you may be asked to have a liver ultrasound scan. There is more about having a CT scan in the section about cancer tests.
A laparoscopy is a small operation done under general anaesthetic. While you are asleep, your doctor puts a tube with a camera and a light into your abdomen, through a small cut. Your surgeon can look inside to see whether there is any cancer spread. You will have a small wound with a couple of stitches. Sometimes, the camera is put in through more than one cut, so you may have more than one wound.
This is a test that uses an endoscope and an ultrasound scanner. For the patient, it is much the same as having an endoscopy. But an ultrasound probe is attached to the endoscope tube and you normally have more sedation. This test can help doctors work out the stage of cancers in the top part of the stomach and in the area where the stomach meets the oesophagus (foodpipe).
As well as blood tests to check your general health, your doctor may test for cancer markers. Markers are chemical substances that can show up in the bloodstream in some types of cancer. The marker CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) sometimes shows up in stomach cancer, as well as other cancers. But half the people with stomach cancer do not have a raised CEA level in their blood.
You may have other blood tests called liver function tests (LFTs) to check that your liver is working properly.
A PET-CT scan uses a CT scan combined with a PET scan. A PET scan shows up areas of active cancer cells using small amounts of radioactive glucose. It can sometimes help to show up areas of cancer in the upper part of the stomach. There is detailed information about PET-CT scans in the about cancer tests section.
After your stomach cancer diagnosis, you will hopefully have met a clinical nurse specialist (CNS). They are part of the team of healthcare professionals who will look after you during and after your treatment. They will help guide you through the process of having further tests and support you while you are waiting for the results.
You usually come back to the hospital to see your specialist and CNS when the test results have come through. The results are bound to take a little time, even if only a few days. You may feel very anxious during this time. While you are waiting for results it may help to talk to your CNS, or a close friend or relative about how you feel. Or you may want to contact a cancer support group to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.
Look in our general cancer organisations section for an organisation that can give you information about counselling services near you.
Rated 4 out of 5 based on 3 votes
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team