In addition to taking a complete history and performing a physical exam, your doctor may do one or more of the following tests:
Upper GI series- The patient is asked to drink a barium solution. Subsequently x-rays of the stomach are taken. The barium outlines the inside of the stomach helping to reveal any abnormal areas that may be involved with cancer. This test is used less often than it used to be, and patients now often undergo endoscopy (see below) first.
Endoscopy- A lighted, flexible tube with a camera, called an endoscope, is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus and then into the stomach. Sedation is given prior to insertion of the endoscope. If an abnormal area is found, biopsies (tissue samples) can be taken and examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
If cancer is found, the doctor may schedule additional staging tests to determine if the cancer has spread. A CT scan may be used to determine if cancer has spread to the liver, pancreas, lungs or other organs near the stomach.
Staging of gastric cancer may also be performed by using endoscopic ultrasound. Endoscopic ultrasound can help to determine the depth of spread of the tumor into the wall of the stomach and involvement of adjacent structures as well as assess for any enlarged lymph nodes that may be invaded with cancer cells.