Stomach cancer is characterized by uncontrolled cells within the stomach lining. It is also termed gastric cancer; this type of cancer is difficult to diagnose because most people rarely show symptoms in the earlier stages. Nevertheless, cases of stomach cancer have been on the rise around the globe.
While stomach cancer is rare compared to other varieties of cancer, one of the biggest challenges of this disease is the difficulty of diagnosing it. Since stomach cancer rarely causes any early signs or symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed until it spreads to other areas, making it more difficult to treat.
What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer is caused by the abnormal growth of cells in the stomach The stomach is a sac-like structure made of muscles. The stomach secretes digestive juices and enzymes that help in the digestion of food.
Stomach cancer can occur in any part of the stomach. However, in most of the world, stomach cancers form in the main part of the stomach (body of stomach).
Causes and Risk Factors
Factors that increase the risk of the stomach cancer are:
- Gender: more common in males
- Advancing age
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- High intake of salty and roasted foods
- Low intake of fruits and vegetables
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori
- Long-term stomach inflammation (gastritis)
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
- Certain types of Stomach polyps (growths)
- Heriditary syndromes : HNPCC, FAP, GAPPS, Li Fraumeni Syndrome, Peutz Jegher’s syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of stomach cancer include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling bloated after eating
- Feeling full after eating small amounts of food
- Stomach pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Abdominal distention
- Black stools
If you observe any such signs and symptoms that worry you, consult your doctor immediately.
Diagnostic tests and procedures for stomach cancer include:
- Upper endoscopy: A tiny camera to see inside your stomach via your throat so that your doctor can visualize the signs of cancer.
- Biopsy is done using special tools that remove a tissue sample which is sent to a lab to look for presence of cancer.
- Imaging tests. Imaging tests include CT, PET (positron emission tomography) scan.
- Endoscopic ultrasound. This utilizes a special ultrasound tool that is incorporated into an endoscope to visualize the inside of the stomach. This technology is used to diagnose early stomach cancers that can be resected by endoscopy.
Treatment options for stomach cancer depend on the cancer’s stage and location. Your doctor will also consider your overall health and personal preferences while creating a treatment plan.
Surgical intervention :
Any curative treatment of stomach cancer involves surgery. Surgery includes removing the tumour with a cuff of normal stomach tissue and surrounding lymph nodes. Based on the location of tumor, a part of it or the whole of stomach has to be removed.
The procedure to remove a part of the stomach is known as Subtotal Gastrectomy. This is done for cancers situated in the lower part of stomach ( Antrum and Pylorus).
Removing the entire stomach is known as Total Gastrectomy. It is done for cancers located in the upper part of the stomach.
Locally advanced stomach cancers that have penetrated through the muscles layers and those that have spread to the nodes require chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is generally divided into two parts. One part is given before surgery and the second part is given after surgery.
Chemotherapy is necessary, even when successful surgery is possible, in these cases to prevent recurrence and prolong survival. Early stomach cancers do not need chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is also given in advanced inoperable cases and stage 4 metastatic cases to control the spread of cancer.
Radiation therapy uses high power beams to destroy cancer cells. Radiation is generally not used for stomach cancer except in some select cases.
Chances of recovery from gastric cancer are greater if diagnosed early. Hence, it is necessary to get yourself screened as soon as you notice any cancer symptoms. If the cancer is localized, it is easier to treat, but it becomes more complex once it starts spreading.
FAQs Related To Stomach Cancer
When should I see a doctor for stomach cancer?
Consult a specialist immediately if you notice any gastric signs and symptoms that don’t go away within a few days.
How Do I Prepare for Stomach Cancer Treatment?
Before you go for the surgery, here are some things you can do:
- First, ask your doctor what type of surgery is chosen.
- Get a pre and post-surgery diet, and make sure to stick to it.
- Be calm. Having cancer can be extremely stressful. So keep your mind engaged in activities. You can also do some stress-relieving workouts like yoga or mediation.
- Also, get all information on the side effects of the treatment and get proper guidance on dealing with it.
What Should I Expect After Stomach Cancer Surgery?
After the surgery, you will have to stay in hospital till you recover completely.
You might lose weight from 1 month to 6 weeks.
However, you can resume normal eating habits within 3 to 6 months after surgery.
You might also have to take multivitamins regularly post-surgery.
What are the potential side effects of these treatments?
Treatment options for stomach can such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy can cause some side effects that include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in appetite
Ensure that you alert your doctor if you find worsening side effects or experience any newer side effects throughout the duration of your stomach cancer treatment.
How do you find the best Stomach cancer treatment centre for me?
To find the best centre for cancer treatment, here are some tips that can help:
- Check the specialist’s credentials, skills, experience and training.
- See the volume of patients treated in the cancer centre. High volume can ensure better outcomes.
- Geographical location: It is good to have a centre close to your place. This also helps to save the travel cost.
- You can also check the centre’s success rate in stomach cancer treatments.
Does insurance cover stomach Cancer?
In India. this provision is provided by several insurance companies. So you can check the treatments are covered in your insurance policy and avail of mediclaim for cancer treatment.
If your regular policy may not cover cancer treatment, then there is special cancer insurance available for which you get more details from your insurance company.
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Informative medical blogs on cancer and all things related.
Stomach cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells lining the stomach. The most common type of stomach cancer is adenocarcinoma.
About 26,560 young adults in the United States are diagnosed with stomach cancer each year. This sort of cancer may be life-threatening,
Cancer that begins in the stomach and spreads throughout the body is called stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer).
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