Early diagnosis can be achieved if early warning signals such as bleeding are caught. If you are over fifty, an annual fecal blood test can discover any internal bleeding. If a colonoscopy then proves negative, an upper endoscopic investigation should be done. Most of this bleeding will be caused by gastritis or an ulcer, but it also may be caused by cancer. Once cancer is identified, it is staged by scanning the body with CT or ultrasound. This will guide treatment and determine if the cancer has spread, and if so,where. Staging cannot be complete until after surgery,
when nearby lymph nodes and organs can be tested.
The 1997 American Joint Committee on Cancer issued a Stomach Cancer Stages manual that presents the TNM classification system for staging gastric cancer:
Stomach Cancer Stages
TX = primary tumor (T) cannot be assessed
TO = no evidence of primary tumor
Tis = carcinoma in situ
T1 = tumor invading the submucosa
T2 = tumor invading the stomach wall muscle
T3 = tumor has penetrated the wall without invading adjacent
T4 = tumor has invaded adjacent structures
There are additional staging labels for regional and distant metastases, as well as ways to chart the pattern of spread.