You usually start by seeing your GP. They will ask you about your general health, symptoms and might also examine you.
Your GP might check your blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. They might arrange for you to have blood tests or an x-ray. Your doctor will then decide if you need to see a specialist.
Seeing a specialist
Your GP looks at your symptoms and decides which specialist to refer you to. For example, they might refer you to a gastroenterology specialist if you are having symptoms such as tummy (abdominal) pain.
Many people with a stomach NET do not have any symptoms. So, you might be diagnosed with a stomach NET during tests for another condition. If tests show that you have a stomach NET, your specialist will refer you to a team of doctors and nurses who have expertise in treating NETs.
You have tests to check the type of NET you have, the size of the tumour and whether it has spread. This helps your team plan your treatment.
The most important tests you have to diagnose a stomach NET are:
- a type of endoscopy called a gastroscopy
- a test to take a sample of tissue (biopsy)
An endoscopy is a test that looks inside the body. The endoscope is a long flexible tube which has a tiny camera and light on the end of it. A doctor or specialist nurse looks down the endoscope to see if there are any growths or other abnormal looking areas. The doctor or nurse can also take samples of any abnormal looking stomach tissue through the endoscope.
A biopsy means taking a sample of cells to look at under a microscope. You usually have a biopsy during an endoscopy test.
Blood tests can check your general health. They can also check the levels of certain substances in the blood which are sometimes raised with NETs.
This scan can show up a NET and see whether it has spread anywhere else in your body. You usually have a CT scan of your chest, tummy (abdomen) and pelvis.
An MRI scan can help to show up a neuroendocrine tumour and see whether it has spread to another part of the body.
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
This test combines ultrasound and endoscopy to look at your food pipe (oesophagus) and stomach.
An endoscopy is a test to look inside your body. Your doctor uses a long flexible tube (endoscope) with a tiny camera and light on the end. The endoscope also has an ultrasound probe at its tip.
An ultrasound scan uses high frequency sound waves to create a picture of the inside of your body.
These are octreotide scans (or octreoscans) and MIBG scans. You have an injection of a low dose radioactive substance, which is taken up by some NET cells. The cells then show up on the scan.
Rarely, certain stomach NETs release high amounts of serotonin. This breaks down into a substance called 5-HIAA. Your doctor can test for this in your wee (urine).