Stomach Cancer

What Happens If Stomach Cancer Is Found?

If stomach cancer is found, tests will be done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. The process of staging describes the extent and severity of cancer growth. Once the doctor knows the stage of the disease, treatment can be planned.

Staging includes:

  • The size of the main tumor.
  • The degree to which the cancer has invaded the surrounding tissue.
  • The extent to which it has spread to lymph nodes or other areas of the body.

Staging helps to assess the outlook (in general, the more advanced the stage, the worse the outlook), but it also helps to determine the most appropriate treatment. For example, a cancer at a particular stage may respond better to radiation therapy than to surgery.

Because stomach cancer can spread to other organs near the stomach, as well as to the lungs and lymph nodes (especially those found in the rear of the abdominal cavity), the doctor may order a CT (computed tomography) scan, and/or an ultrasound exam to complete the staging process.

In some cases, staging may not be complete until surgery is performed, and lymph nodes and other tissue samples from the abdomen have been examined by a pathologist for cancer cells. Final decisions about treatment after surgery may depend on these findings.

The physician uses all available findings to choose a stage that best describes the present condition of the cancer.

Nice To Know:

Living with any serious disease can be difficult. For those with stomach cancer, the challenge can seem overwhelming. In addition to concern about family, work, and the future, diagnosis and treatment are time-consuming and can add to worries about your medical progress.

Having a network of support is important when anxiety grows about medical tests, treatments, hospital stays, medical bills and insurance. The help of family and friends is vital, but professionals can offer comfort and advice as well. Doctors, nurses, and other health care workers can answer questions so that the process feels less mysterious. Counselors, therapists, or clergy can provide insight both to the patient and his or her family.

Support groups are another valuable outlet, as are social workers, the library, the Internet and associations that serve people with cancer. For more information on support groups, see Additional Sources of Information.

It is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Each person is unique physically and emotionally, so there is no one best way to deal with the challenges of cancer.

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