How is stomach cancer diagnosed?

Several different tests can be used to help diagnose stomach cancer.

  • Radiologic tests like a CT scan, barium swallow and MRI can help identify a problem in the stomach if the tumor is large enough.
  • An upper endoscopy is used to take a biopsy (sample) of the lesion to make the diagnosis or to detect early cancer before a mass is large enough to be seen on radiologic tests. An upper endoscopy is performed by inserting a thin tube with a tiny camera through the mouth and into the stomach, where biopsies are obtained from the tumor.
  • To find out how much of the stomach wall a tumor involves and to help assess the “stage” of the cancer, a doctor will order an endoscopic ultrasound, which uses a special type of endoscope that has an ultrasound probe. The endoscope is placed in the stomach through the mouth. The ultrasound probe is able to look through the surface of the stomach lining to the stomach wall beyond and see how much of the stomach is involved by the tumor.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/17/2019.

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