Tests and next steps
A GP or specialist will probably refer you for a test to look inside your stomach.
This test is called a gastroscopy (a type of endoscopy). It looks for any problems in your stomach, including stomach cancer.
During a gastroscopy:
- A long, thin, flexible tube with a small camera inside (called an endoscope) will be put into your mouth, down your throat and into your stomach.
- A specialist will use the camera in the endoscope to look for any problems.
- A small sample of cells (called a biopsy) may be collected during the procedure. These cells will be sent to a laboratory to check for cancer.
The test should take around 10 to 15 minutes.
It should not be painful, but you might find it uncomfortable.
You may be offered things to make you more comfortable and make the test easier, such as:
- sedation – medicine given through a small tube in your arm to help you relax
- putting you to sleep (general anaesthetic)
Cancer Research UK has more information on having an endoscopy.
During a gastroscopy, the specialist will look for problems in your oesophagus, stomach, and the first part of the bowels (small intestine).
Getting your results
You should get the results of a gastroscopy and biopsy within 2 weeks.
A specialist will explain what the results mean and what will happen next.
If you're told you have stomach cancer
Being told you have stomach cancer can feel overwhelming. You may be feeling anxious about what will happen next.
A group of specialists will look after you throughout your diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Your team will include a clinical nurse specialist who will be your main point of contact during and after treatment.
You can ask them any questions you have.
Advanced stomach cancer
If you are diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer, you will probably feel a huge range of emotions.
There is lots of support available for you and your loved ones.
Your clinical nurse specialist and the rest of your specialist team can recommend both local and national support services.
Macmillan Cancer Support has a free helpline that's open every day from 8am to 8pm.
They're there to listen if you have anything you want to talk about.
Once you have been diagnosed with stomach cancer, you will need more tests. These will help the specialists find out the size of the cancer and how far it's spread (called the stage).
Find out more about what cancer stages and grades mean.
You may need:
- an ultrasound scan inside your stomach using an endoscope, called an endoscopic ultrasound
- a CT scan
- a PET-CT scan
- a small operation to look inside your stomach, called a laparoscopy
The specialists will use the results of these tests and work with you to decide on the best treatment plan for you.
Macmillan Cancer Support has information on tests after you have been diagnosed and what to expect.