What is Stomach Cancer?Stomach cancer is caused when the inner epithelial (tissue) cells of the stomach develop cancerous cells and tumors start to develop. The gastric cancer is known to spread from the stomach to the lymph nodes, abdomen linings, bones, lungs and liver as well if left untreated for a longer period.
What are the signs and symptoms of Stomach Cancer?There are very few specific symptoms of stomach cancer. Most times the symptoms seen are confused with other abdominal disorders. Therefore it is imperative to notice these signs and symptoms at the earliest and undergo a complete diagnosis to check for the possibility of stomach cancer.
- Regular heartburn
- Fatigue and continued weakness
- Increased diarrhea and constipation
- Swollen stomach
- Increased weight loss
- Blood in your stool
- Stomach pain
What are the causes of Stomach Cancer?Researchers are still undecided about the exact cause for stomach (gastric) cancer, however extensive studies have been able to pinpoint certain things that increase the risk of stomach cancer, such as:
- Ulcer causing bacteria – H. pylori
- Gastritis – gut inflammation
- Elongated anemia
- Polyps – abnormal growth in the stomach
- Obesity & over-weight
- Extremely spicy diet
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- Typical genetic defects
- Asbestos exposure
How is Stomach Cancer (Gastric Cancer) diagnosed?If you experience any, or a combination, of the above signs and symptoms it is important to consult a doctor or a gastrointestinal specialist. The doctor will likely conduct a complete physical examination and check your medical history for previously seen indicators. In case of suspicion for stomach cancer, the doctor will ask you go through certain tests, such as:
- Blood tests – To check for blood infections in the body.
- Upper endoscopy – This allows a view of the inside of the stomach.
- Upper GI series test – Barium is ingested so the doctor can distinguish abnormalities better through an X-ray.
- CT scan – Gives a more detailed view of the different epithelial layers of the stomach.
- Biopsy – En endoscopy is used to take a sample of the stomach tissue for further diagnosis of the cancer cells.
What are the treatment methods for Stomach (Gastric) Cancer?There are different methods of treatment of stomach cancer (gastric cancer) which the doctor may advise. The type of treatment best suitable for you is decided keeping in mind certain factors such as the period of time you have had the cancer, the extent of damage caused by the cancer and what is the stage (development) of the cancer. These are the various types of treatment that are used to cure and/or prevent the chances of the cancer recurring:
- Surgery – This is the most effective form of treating stomach (gastric) cancer. The latest in surgical treatment for stomach cancer is known as the ‘endoscopic mucosal resection’ (EMR) which is a minimally invasive surgical technique. In this procedure the tumor and the mucosa (inner stomach lining) is removed (resection) from the stomach using an instrument known as an ‘electrical wire loop’. Another variant of this minimally invasive surgery is known as the ‘endoscopic sub-mucosal dissection’ (ESD) which requires removing a larger area of the inner stomach lining (mucosa) in one go.
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy has been more successful in palliative care of stomach cancer (in reducing the size of tumor, relieve symptoms and raise the chances of survival) than its complete treatment. A combination of drugs and medicines are used in chemotherapy of the stomach cancer such as 5-FU (fluorouracil), BCNU (carmustine), methyl-CCNU (semustine), doxorubicin (Adriamycin), mitomycin C as well as trastuzumab for targeted treatment.
- Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy is used in combination with surgery and chemotherapy to treat stomach cancer.
How to prevent Stomach Cancer (Gastric Cancer)?Stomach cancer can be prevented through adopting certain habits and taking precautions, such as:
- Treatment of stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori virus through antibiotics.
- Healthy eating habits and a healthy diet including more fruits and vegetables intake.
- Avoid spicy and smoked food items in your regular diet.
- Avoiding over-weight and obesity.
- Quitting smoking can also reduce the chances of stomach cancer.