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Stomach Cancer Tests, Diagnosis, Stages and Prognosis

The expert team at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center can diagnose and treat all types of stomach cancer. Our stomach cancer experts will work with you to find the right treatment plan for your diagnosis.

What Tests Can Detect Stomach Cancer?

As stomach cancer symptoms do not develop until advanced stages of the disease, your Banner MD Anderson doctor will need to perform tests to diagnose for cancer.

Before any imaging tests are completed, your doctor will perform a physical examination. This examination will also include questions about your medical history, family history and will determine if you have any risk factors.

A stomach cancer diagnosis usually begins with an imaging examination. You doctor may order an upper endoscopy or other imaging tests include CT scans or X-rays. If you imaging results are abnormal, you doctor may then order an exploratory surgery to look for signs of stomach cancer beyond the esophagus or stomach. Should you be diagnosed with stomach cancer, your doctor may order additional tests.  These results can help identify treatment options that will be most effective for you. 

What Happens After Stomach Cancer Is Found?

If the imaging tests indicate that you may have stomach cancer, the goal is to remove all stomach cancer and some additional healthy tissue. The following procedures may be performed:

  • Surgery to remove the part of the esophagus and stomach where the cancer is located. The amount removed will depend on the severity and stage of the cancer.
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy administered to kill cancer cells.
  • Targeted drugs administered that attack abnormalities within cancer cells or direct your immune system to kill cancer cells.

The expert team at Banner MD Anderson is dedicated to caring for you before, during and after diagnosis. We offer integrative oncology options to all our cancer patients to address all physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological needs.

What Are the Stages of Stomach Cancer?

If you are diagnosed with stomach cancer, your Banner MD Anderson doctor will try to determine if the cancer has spread and how far. This process is called staging and determines how much cancer is in the body, how serious the cancer is and how far it has spread. The following are the different stages of stomach cancer:

  • Stage 0: This is early-stage stomach cancer, where the cancer has not spread to any nearby tissue or the layers of the cell that line the stomach.
  • Stage I: This stage is typically divided into two categories and happens when the cancer has grown beneath the top layer of cells in the mucosa and has sometimes spread to the lymph nodes near the stomach.
  • Stage II: This stage is also divided into two categories. A patient is typically diagnosed with one of the two stages if the cancer has grown beneath the top layer of cells, main muscle layer and has spread to the lymph nodes near the stomach. This stage can also be diagnosed if the cancer has spread through the main muscle layer and into the subserosa but has not grown to the outside of the stomach or any other organs and lymph nodes.
  • Stage III: Stage III is divided into three categories. This stage occurs when cancer has grown into the main muscle layer, the subserosa layer or has gone through all the years of the stomach into the outer wall. Sometimes at this stage, the cancer has also spread to the lymph nodes or has started growing into other nearby organs.
  • Stage IV: This is the most advanced stage of stomach cancer. At this point, the cancer has spread beyond the stomach into other areas of the body. In the United States, four out of five stomach cancers are diagnosed once they have reached this stage.

Stomach cancer affects everyone differently. Depending on your diagnosis, the stomach cancer specialists at Banner MD Anderson will determine your best course of action.

What Does My Stomach Cancer Prognosis Mean?

Due to the many different stages, your stomach cancer prognosis will determine your survival rate. These rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive after they were diagnosed. Keep in mind that survival rates are based on estimates and can’t predict what will happen. Your Banner MD Anderson specialist can provide more insight on how these numbers apply to you and your particular diagnosis.

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