Imaging Tests to Diagnose and Treat Stomach Cancer
Did you know that November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month? For over a decade, health professionals and advocates have used the month of November to raise awareness for stomach cancer. They emphasize the importance of knowing your hereditary risks for developing this serious cancer and your risks of being diagnosed with this disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, 26,380 cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed yearly. Of those cases, 11,090 people lose their lives battling this deadly and aggressive cancer. Stomach cancer accounts for 1.5% of all new cancers in the U.S.
Who Gets Stomach Cancer?
Stomach cancer usually starts in the cells lining the inside of the stomach. These cells are called gastric cells. Over time, this cancer can grow through the stomach wall and spread to other organs, such as the liver, pancreas, and intestines.
Stomach cancer is a disease that affects people of all ages but is most common in people over 60. Several risk factors can increase your chances of getting stomach cancer, including:
- A family history of stomach cancer
- Chronic inflammation of the stomach
- Exposure to certain chemicals and pollutants
If you have any risk factors, you must talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk.
How Is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed?
Several tests and procedures can diagnose stomach cancer. The most common is an upper endoscopy, a procedure used to look at the inside of the stomach. Doctors insert a small camera through the mouth and into the stomach during this procedure. This allows them to look closely at the inside of the stomach and look for any signs of cancer.
Other tests that may diagnose stomach cancer may include CT scans, MRI scans, and X-rays. These tests can look for abnormal growths or masses in the stomach.
Imaging Tests to Diagnose and Stage Stomach Cancer
Imaging tests are valuable to medical professionals when they suspect stomach cancer. These tests can help oncologists diagnose and even stage stomach cancer and include:
- Computed Tomography Scans (CT Scans). CT scans use X-rays and computers to create detailed pictures of your organs and tissues. These images can help doctors determine cancer’s location and whether it has already spread to other organs.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This imaging test uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images. Unlike CT scans, MRIs show doctors a greater soft tissue contrast, which can make it helpful when trying to determine whether cancer has spread to other organs.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scans. A PET scan is an imaging test that uses special cameras and a small amount of radioactive material to help doctors diagnose and stage stomach cancer. The radioactive material used in a PET scan is called a radiotracer. When the radiotracer is injected into your body, it travels through your bloodstream and collects in areas with higher-than-normal cell activity. Cancer cells typically have high cell activity levels, so they tend to absorb more of the radiotracer than normal cells do.
- Ultrasounds. Ultrasound can help diagnose stomach cancer by providing information about the size and location of a tumor. It can also help determine whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. In some cases, an ultrasound may be used to guide a needle biopsy, a procedure to remove a small tissue sample for laboratory testing.
- Upper Gastrointestinal Series. An upper gastrointestinal series (UGIS) is a series of x-rays of the upper digestive tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. The test is used to diagnose and stage stomach cancer. The UGIS can help identify tumors in the stomach and any blockages or abnormalities. It can also determine how far cancer has spread and whether it has invaded other nearby organs.
Schedule Your Diagnostic Imaging Appointment Today
At ImageCare Centers, we offer state-of-the-art imaging that can help your doctor identify and stage stomach cancer and hundreds of other diseases and conditions. When you need crystal clear imaging at a fraction of the cost of hospitals and urgent care clinics, contact ImageCare Centers today. Our trained specialists and technicians can help you through every aspect of your procedure – from scheduling to recovery. Contact us today at 973-871-3333 to schedule an appointment or complete our convenient online appointment request form.