Stomach Cancer, also known as Gastric Cancer develops in the wall of the stomach. It is seen that people above 60 are more likely prone to Stomach Cancer. Sometimes it can appear in the younger age group also.

It is observed that the cancer cells grow rapidly in the stomach and can turn into a tumour while growing deeper into the stomach walls. It may also shed cancer cells into the bloodstream or lymphatic system, hence spreading the disease that is metastases.

 

Types of gastric cancers are:

  1. Adenocarcinoma – commonest type. Arises from the inner lining.
  2. Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) - GISTs can develop in any part of the Digestive Tract. This is an uncommon tumour that starts in the wall of the stomach called interstitial cells of Cajal and spreads to other parts of the body.
  3. Neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoids) - It is slow-growing cancer that can begin in the Digestive Tract. It grows from neuroendocrine cells. It is generally successfully treated through surgery and chemotherapy
  4. Lymphomas - It is a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system which is responsible for protecting your body from infection and viruses. When white blood cells called lymphocytes grow abnormally, they can form tumours. It may start from the stomach when your immune system is trying to fight against some stomach infections.
  5. Other types include- Leiomyosarcoma, squamous cell carcinomas and small cell carcinomas.

 

Although a specific cause behind stomach cancer is not defined, there are definitely some factors that increase your chance of stomach cancer. So, if you want to avoid the risk of Stomach Cancer, then keep a close check on the following reasons that may contribute to stomach cancer.

  1. Family History of Cancer: If you have a family history of cancer, you are more likely to have this disease. Hence, keep a closer check on your body and adapt preventive measures to minimise the risk of stomach cancer.
  2. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - Long Standing Acid Reflux can be a potential cause of Stomach Cancer. So, if you are suffering from GERD, take proper medication and keep this disease in control.
  3. Unhealthy Diet - If your diet includes too much fatty, salty, smoked or pickled foods, then you are increasing your risk of Stomach Cancer. Follow a nutrient-rich diet to have a healthy body.
  4. Metal Exposure - Frequent Exposure to coal, metal and rubber may increase your chance of stomach cancer.
  5. Smoking - Smoking is always injurious to health, so avoid smoking, vaping or chewing tobacco to lower down your risk of Stomach Cancer.
  6. Obesity - An unhealthy weight is the cause of many diseases. So, to reduce the risk of Stomach Cancer, maintain a healthy diet to balance your weight.
  7. Alcohol - Say ‘No’ to Alcohol as it irritates your stomach lining and can be a risk factor for Stomach Cancer.

 

Stomach Cancer may show different symptoms depending on the part of the stomach in which it has occurred. However, there are some common symptoms which are generally observed in patients suffering from Stomach Cancer. These are:

  • Indigestion
  • Feeling Bloated after Intake of Meal
  • Heartburn
  • Slight nausea
  • Loss of appetite

 

With time, your symptoms may get worse and you may experience:

  • Black Stool or blood in your stool
  • Pain in your Stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Unintentional Weight Loss
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Yellowish eyes or skin
  • Swelling in your stomach
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Fatigue

 

When you start experiencing such symptoms more often, get yourself on alert mode and see a doctor to get it diagnosed. You may undergo various tests as prescribed by your healthcare provider depending on your health condition, symptoms and medical history.

 

The following tests are generally considered by healthcare providers to diagnose Stomach Cancer:

  1. Upper Endoscopy with biopsy- To Diagnose Stomach Cancer, healthcare providers insert a thin tube through your mouth to your stomach along with a small camera known as an endoscope.
  2. Endoscopic ultrasound - Endoscopic ultrasound helps you to identify the stages of Stomach Cancer. It takes a picture of your stomach which can be further used to identify the level to which cancer cells are spread from the stomach lining to stomach walls.
  3. Radiologic Tests - CT scan and MRI are radiologic tests that help the health care providers to get a clear vision of body organs to identify tumours and cancer-related abnormalities.
  4. Laparoscopy - When your health care provider can’t get enough information through imaging, a tiny camera is inserted in your stomach through small cuts in the abdomen to see the exact condition of the stomach and identify the stage of cancer.

 

Once the cancer stage is identified, the healthcare provider proceeds with the process to treat Stomach Cancer. He may suggest you remove precancerous cells, a tumour, or all or part of your stomach, depending on the level to which the cancer has spread.

  1. EMR (Upper Endoscopy) - It is an effective treatment for the people in early stages of Stomach Cancer. This means that the cancer has just started and has not spread to stomach walls or other organs. In this treatment, a camera is inserted through the mouth along with a thin tube and part of the cancer cells is removed from the stomach through endoscopic submucosal dissection or endoscopic mucosal resection. Most of the cancers are diagnosed in late stages so this method is not commonly used.
  2. Gastrectomy - It is considered to treat stomach cancer when it spreads to the stomach walls and there is a need to remove part or all of your stomach. In this case, the affected part of the stomach which has cancer cells is removed to eliminate cancer. In case, if cancer has spread to all parts of the stomach, the entire stomach is removed and the esophagus is directly connected to the intestine to carry out normal digestive functionality. This can be done very well laparoscopically also.
  3. Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells before and after surgery. It is generally used in combination with radiation and drug therapy. It shrinks the cancer cells before the surgery and kills the remaining cells after surgery, if any.
  4. Radiation - Radiation is used in combination with Chemotherapy before and after surgery to destroy the cancer cells. The process includes energy beams like X-rays to kill cancer cells.
  5. Targeted Drug Therapy - Targeted Drug Therapy is used to treat Cancer along with Chemotherapy in Advanced Stages of Cancer. In this process, the cancer cells are killed or weakened to stop mutating and coming back again.
  6. Immunotherapy - In the process of Immunotherapy, a substance is prepared to boost your immune system so that it can find cancer cells and kill them. It is generally used when cancer spreads to body parts or comes back again after treating it once.
  7. Cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy)- is done in selected patients of cancer stomach with peritoneal metastases.

 

If you are in the final stages of cancer, the health care provider will plan a treatment plan that increases your life span and eases out your symptoms as it becomes difficult to eliminate the cancer cells as they get spread to various body organs.

 

Cancer makes life difficult, hence one should take preventive measures to lower the risk of developing stomach cancer. Some simple practices can help you keep your body active and healthy while minimising the risk of diseases. these are:

  1. Treat Stomach Infections: Cancer develops when something irritates the inner lining of the stomach for a longer period of time. Hence, treat stomach infections as soon as they develop. Take medicines and proper medical treatments to cure infections in your stomach and heal the stomach soreness.
  2. Treat Stomach Diseases - If your stomach is facing issues like ulcers or gastritis, then make sure to cure them instantly with the right medication to reduce your risk of stomach cancer as prolonged stomach diseases may cause cancer.
  3. Eat Healthy - Eating fresh fruits and vegetables eases your digestive process and gives your body the nutrients it needs. Stop the large intake of salty and fried foods, as it is hard to digest and will harm your stomach, hence increasing your risk of stomach cancer.
  4. Smoking - Smoking, Vaping or chewing tobacco affects your health and keeps you at a higher risk of stomach cancer. Avoid such things for a healthy life.
  5. Medical Drugs - Some of the medical drugs may affect adversely your stomach, like aspirin for heart problems and NSAID for arthritis. Consult your doctor and stay aware if any of the consequences may occur.
  6. Healthy Weight - Maintain a healthy body weight to keep your body functioning properly without putting strain on any body organ. This will keep you in the right shape and reduce your risk of stomach cancer.

 

Hence, staying aware of the symptoms of stomach cancer and getting it treated in the early stages is what helps you to protect yourself from stomach cancer. So, see a doctor as soon as you notice any frequent symptoms. Take a regular body checkup if have some health conditions wherein you are at increased risk of cancer. Regular screenings will help you identify the cancer cells in the early stages and take a treatment plan to cure it completely. Even after surgery, don’t fail out on your regular visits to your health care provider as cancer may come back after a certain amount of time. So, Post - Surgery Preventive Measures should be taken to ensure that you have track of your body and it is free from Cancer.

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