Diagnosis

Tests and procedures used to diagnose gastroesophageal junction cancer and stomach cancer include

  • A tiny camera to see inside your stomach (upper endoscopy). A thin tube containing a tiny camera is passed down your throat and into your stomach. Your doctor can look for signs of cancer. If any suspicious areas are found, a piece of tissue can be collected for analysis (biopsy).
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests used to look for stomach cancer include computerized tomography (CT) scans and a special type of X-ray exam sometimes called a barium swallow.

Determining the extent (stage) of gastroesophageal or stomach cancer

The stage of your stomach cancer helps your doctor decide which treatments may be best for you. Tests and procedures used to determine the stage of cancer include:

  • Imaging tests. Tests may include CT and positron emission tomography (PET).
  • Exploratory surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgery to look for signs that your cancer has spread beyond your esophagus or stomach, within your chest or abdomen. Exploratory surgery is usually done laparoscopically. This means the surgeon makes several small incisions in your abdomen and inserts a special camera that transmits images to a monitor in the operating room.

Other staging tests may be used, depending on your situation.

Stages of stomach cancer

The stages of adenocarcinoma of the stomach or esophagus include:

  • Stage I. At this stage, the tumor is limited to the top layer of tissue that lines the inside of the esophagus or stomach. Cancer cells also may have spread to a limited number of nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage II. The cancer at this stage has spread deeper, growing into a deeper muscle layer of the esophagus or stomach wall. Cancer may also have spread to more of the lymph nodes.
  • Stage III. At this stage, the cancer may have grown through all the layers of the esophagus or stomach and spread to nearby structures. Or it may be a smaller cancer that has spread more extensively to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV. This stage indicates that the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body.