What is the role of imaging studies in the workup of gastric cancer?

Updated: Feb 23, 2021
  • Author: Elwyn C Cabebe, MD; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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Esophagogastroduodenoscopy has a diagnostic accuracy of 95%. This relatively safe and simple procedure provides a permanent color photographic record of the lesion. This procedure is also the primary method for obtaining a tissue diagnosis of suspected lesions. Biopsy of any ulcerated lesion should include at least 6 specimens taken from around the lesion because of variable malignant transformation. In selected cases, endoscopic ultrasound may be helpful in assessing depth of penetration of the tumor or involvement of adjacent structures.

Double-contrast upper GI series and barium swallows may be helpful in delineating the extent of disease when obstructive symptoms are present or when bulky proximal tumors prevent passage of the endoscope to examine the stomach distal to an obstruction (more common with gastroesophageal [GE]-junction tumors). These studies are only 75% accurate and should for the most part be used only when upper GI endoscopy is not feasible.

Chest radiograph is done to evaluate for metastatic lesions.

CT scan or MRI of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis assess the local disease process as well as evaluate potential areas of spread (ie, enlarged lymph nodes, possible liver metastases).

Endoscopic ultrasound allows for a more precise preoperative assessment of the tumor stage. Endoscopic sonography is becoming increasingly useful as a staging tool when the CT scan fails to find evidence of T3, T4, or metastatic disease. Institutions that favor neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for patients with locally advanced disease rely on endoscopic ultrasound data to improve patient stratification.

In a study of peritoneal cancer (PC) diagnosis, investigators found that the administration of carbonated water for dual-time point imaging may improve the accuracy of FDG PET/CT scanning for PC in patients previously diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC). [26]

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