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If the tests show that you have cancer of the stomach, your doctor may want to do some more tests to see if the cancer has spread outside the stomach or to other parts of the body.
These tests may include:
It may take a week or two for the results of your tests to be ready. Waiting for your results can be a difficult time, so it may help you to talk things over with a relative or close friend.
You may want to contact one of our cancer support specialists| or another support organisation|.
A CT scan takes a series of x-rays that build up a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body.
The scan takes 10–30 minutes and is painless. It uses a small amount of radiation, which is very unlikely to harm you and will not harm anyone you come into contact with. You will be asked not to eat or drink for at least four hours before the scan.
You may be given a drink or injection of a dye, which allows particular areas to be seen more clearly. This may make you feel hot all over for a few minutes. It’s important to let your doctor know if you’re allergic to iodine or have asthma because you could have a more serious reaction to the injection.
You’ll probably be able to go home as soon as the scan is over.
Having a CT scan
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This test may be used to measure the size and position of a tumour. It’s done in the hospital scanning department and only takes a few minutes.
Once you’re lying comfortably on your back, a gel is spread onto your tummy area (abdomen). A small device that produces sound waves is then passed over the area. The sound waves make up a picture of the stomach and liver, which can be seen on a computer screen.
This is a combination of a CT scan, which takes a series of x-rays to build up a three-dimensional picture, and a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which uses low-dose radiation to measure the activity of cells in different parts of the body. A PET/CT scan gives more detailed information about the part of the body being scanned. It’s a new type of scan, and you may have to travel to a specialist centre to have one.
You’ll be asked not to eat for six hours before the scan, although you may be able to drink. A mildly radioactive substance is injected into a vein, usually in your arm.
The radiation dose used is very small. The scan is done after at least an hour’s wait, and usually takes 30–90 minutes. You should be able to go home after the scan.
A laparoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the upper part of the tummy area (abdomen). It involves a small operation done under general anaesthetic. You’ll need to stay in hospital for a short time.
The doctor makes a small cut - about 2cm - in the skin and muscle near the tummy button. A thin, flexible, fibre optic tube (laparoscope) is then carefully inserted into your abdomen. The laparoscope allows the doctor to look at the outside of the stomach and at organs close by. They may take samples of tissue (biopsies) to be examined under the microscope. Sometimes the doctor may make further cuts to look at the stomach from a different angle, so you may have more than one wound.
After a laparoscopy you’ll have one or two stitches in your abdomen where the cut was made. This area may feel sore for a few days afterwards but you should be able to get up as soon as the effects of the anaesthetic have worn off.
Some people may have blood samples taken to test the levels of particular proteins in their blood. These proteins, called CEA and CA 19–9, are sometimes found at higher levels in the blood of people with stomach cancer. They are called cancer markers (or tumour markers).
If the tests show that you have a raised level of a cancer marker in your blood, the doctor may repeat them from time to time during and after your treatment.
Content last reviewed: 1 June 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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