Stomach cancer screening can be performed using several different tests. However, none of the current screening methods are widely recommended for people who do not have symptoms or have not been identified as having a heightened risk of developing the condition.
While there is no standard stomach cancer screening test, several approaches are being evaluated for routine use. Some of those approaches include tests that are often recommended for individuals who have undergone a partial gastrectomy or have chronic gastric atrophy, pernicious anemia, stomach polyps, familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, all of which are believed to increase the risk of developing stomach cancer. In these cases, the following stomach cancer screening tests might be performed:
- Barium-meal gastric photofluorography – A patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound), which coats the esophagus and stomach after being swallowed. A series of X-rays is then taken of the esophagus and stomach. The barium provides additional clarity and makes it possible for a physician to observe the motion of the organs.
- Upper endoscopy – An endoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument that has a light and a lens for viewing) is passed through a patient’s mouth, down the throat and into the esophagus. A physician is then able to view the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum to check for abnormalities. If necessary, a physician can also obtain a small tissue sample to be later evaluated under a microscope for cancer cells.
- Serum pepsinogen measurements – These blood tests measure the level of pepsinogen in a patient’s blood. A low level of pepsinogen can sometimes be a sign of chronic gastric atrophy, which can lead to stomach cancer.
Even if a patient has one or more risk factors for developing stomach cancer, not all of these stomach cancer screening tests are necessarily appropriate. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty team of experts makes screening recommendations based on a thorough analysis of a patient’s medical history and individual risk factors. After formulating an initial patient care plan, this group continues to meet weekly as a collaborative tumor board to review the patient’s progress and make new recommendations as necessary. In this way, our patients receive the benefit of multiple expert opinions in a single location.
To learn more about stomach cancer screening options, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. No referral is needed to consult with the oncologists specializing in stomach cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center.