Stomach (Gastric) Cancer
Stomach cancer is a type of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells begin growing uncontrollably in the inner lining of the stomach. These cells start to reproduce uncontrollably and grow to form a hard mass (tumor).
This cancer is also known as ‘Gastric cancer’ and is a slow growing cancer which may take years at times to develop noticeably. Prompt and urgent treatment is advised by doctors and oncologists for successful removal of this cancer.
What are the causes for Stomach Cancer?
Stomach cancer’s exact cause is yet unknown however medical specialists have identified certain risk factors that are known to increase your risk of developing stomach cancer. An infection with the commonly found bacteria H. pylori can cause ulcers is known to be a risk factor while inflammation in the intestine (gastritis), persistent anemia and polyps growing in the stomach can also increase the chances of gastric cancer.
Other factors that are also likely to increase your chances of developing stomach cancer are:
- Spicy/salty diet
- Gastric (stomach) surgery for ulcer treatment
- ‘A’ blood-type
- Specific genes
- Exposure to asbestos and other harmful substances
What are the signs and symptoms of Stomach (Gastric) Cancer?
The commonly seen signs and symptoms that can be seen in case of stomach cancer are:
- Feeling too full after meal
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach ache
- Blood in stool
- Unreasonable weight-loss
- Swallowing difficulty
- Eyes/skin start turning yellow
How is Stomach Cancer diagnosed?
The initial diagnosis for a suspected case of stomach cancer involves a complete physical examination and checking your medical history for prevalent medical disorders. Certain other diagnostic tests are also conducted to determine positively the presence of stomach cancer.
These are the other diagnostic tests that you might be advised to undergo by the doctor to check for the presence of stomach cancer:
Blood test – This is useful for identifying signs of cancer in the body.
Upper Endoscopy – A thin and flexible tube (endoscope) attached with a light-source and video camera is inserted into the stomach through the mouth and esophagus to view for cancerous growth in the stomach.
Computerized tomography (CT) Scan – This powerful x-ray test helps give detailed images of the inside of the stomach and can help to positively identify cancerous growth in it.
Biopsy – This test requires the doctor to remove a small portion of the cancer growth (tumor) for detailed pathological examination in order to check if the cancerous cells are benign or malignant as well as to check the stage that the stomach cancer has reached.
How is Stomach Cancer treated?
As with most cancer types there are a number of treatment options available. The best type of cancer treatment will be decided by your doctor/oncologist depending on several factors such as your age, overall health, medical history, type of cancer and its metastasizing (spread) stage. The choice of stomach cancer treatment can also depend on your choice as well as your oncologist’s expertise.
These are the common stomach (gastric) cancer treatment methods:
This is a better form of cancer treatment and it aims to remove the cancer completely, or as much as possible. This method may be performed using the conventional open-type surgery or the modern minimally invasive surgical methods.
The basic goal of the surgical treatment of stomach cancer is to make incisions in the stomach to access you stomach in the abdominal cavity. After having a clear access to the cancer the surgeon will attempt to remove the entire tumor in one go if possible or remove as much as is possible with surgical instruments.
Certain cancers of the stomach cause the food pipe to become narrowed and thus present difficulty with moving food in and out of the stomach, in such cases the surgeon will likely implant a stent (artificial support) in the stomach passageways to allow the food to flow freely down the gastrointestinal tract.
This cancer treatment method uses medicinal drugs to destroy the cancerous cells’ ability to reproduce and spread to other parts. This cancer treatment identifies the genes that are responsible for the growth ability of the cancerous cells and targets these genes to prevent the cancerous cells from reproducing and spreading to other surrounding organs.
Chemotherapy is performed with administering of medicinal drugs through either oral method or intravenous (IV) methods. The surgeon will decide if your individual stomach cancer case requires a single cancer drug or a combination of various cancer treatment drugs.
This cancer treatment method uses high-energy beams of x-ray (or other particles) to target the cancerous cells and use the heat generated by the high-energy beam to shrink or destroy these cancerous (tumor) growths inside the stomach.
This treatment method may be performed before or after a surgical treatment for stomach cancer in order to help remove the cancer completely and prevent it from recurring in the future.
Stomach (gastric) cancer is one of the common cancers in the world but can be fatal if left untreated for a long time. Prompt and proper cancer care can help fight against stomach cancer.