Stomach Cancer: Biopsy

Stomach Cancer: Biopsy

A biopsy is the removal of small pieces of tissue to test. The small pieces of tissue are looked at with a microscope. A biopsy is used to confirm a diagnosis of stomach and other cancers. A biopsy to look for stomach cancer can be done in 2 ways. One is called an endoscopic stomach biopsy. The other is called an endoscopic ultrasound-guided needle biopsy.

Endoscopic stomach biopsy

A stomach biopsy is most often done with endoscopy. This is a procedure that uses a special tool called an endoscope. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a light and a tiny camera. During the procedure:

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax. A numbing medicine is sprayed into your throat. This is to help prevent gagging.

  • Once you are relaxed, the endoscope is put into your mouth. It is gently guided down your throat, your esophagus, and into your stomach. 

  • The health care provider looks at the lining of the stomach with the scope.

  • He or she uses a small tool to take tiny tissue samples.

  • The pieces of tissue are sent to a lab to be looked at under a microscope.

Endoscopic ultrasound-guided needle stomach biopsy

An endoscopic ultrasound-guided needle biopsy also uses an endoscope. The scope has a special ultrasound tool at the tip. The ultrasound tip is put against the stomach walls to create images. This procedure may be used if a health care provider thinks the cancer is deeper in the walls of the stomach. During the procedure:

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax. A numbing medicine is sprayed into your throat. This is to help prevent gagging.

  • Once you are relaxed, the endoscope is put into your mouth. It is gently guided down your throat, your esophagus, and into your stomach. 

  • The ultrasound tip is placed against your stomach walls. The health care provider looks at the lining of the stomach with the scope. He or she can view images of the layers of the stomach, lymph nodes, and other nearby tissues.

  • A thin, hollow needle is inserted into the stomach wall. This is used to take the tiny pieces of tissue to test.

  • The pieces of tissue are sent to a lab to be looked at under a microscope.

What the results mean

Once the biopsy is done, a specialist called a pathologist looks at the tissue samples under a microscope to check for cancer cells. It usually takes a few days to get the results. The biopsy results show whether you have cancer. If you do have cancer, the results show which type of cancer.

At this point, your health care provider may order more tests. These tests are to help find out the stage of the cancer. Stage is how much the cancer has spread. The results will also help your providers figure out the best course of treatment. 

 
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