Stomach cancer begins when cancer cells form in the inner lining of your stomach and grow into a tumor. Stomach cancer usually grows slowly over many years, and stomach cancer most often appears in people in their late 60s to 80s.
About 95% of stomach cancers begin in the glandular tissue that lines the stomach. The tumor may spread along the stomach wall or it may grow directly through the wall and release cells into the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Once it bypasses the stomach, cancer can spread to other organs.
While stomach cancer is relatively rare compared to other types of cancer, one of the biggest risks of this disease is that it is difficult to diagnose. This type of cancer usually causes no early symptoms and is often not diagnosed until it has spread to other parts of the body, which makes it more difficult to treat.
Although it can be difficult to diagnose and treat, it is important to have the knowledge you need to beat the disease. This article will introduce you to the causes, symptoms, and treatment of stomach cancer!
Stomach cancer causes:
Your stomach, along with your esophagus, is only one part of your upper digestive system. It is responsible for digesting food and then transporting nutrients to the rest of the digestive system, ie the small and large intestines.
Stomach cancer occurs when healthy cells in the upper digestive tract become cancerous and grow out of control, thus forming a tumor. This process occurs slowly and tends to develop over many years.
However, some factors may increase the risk of developing these cancer cells. These risk factors include certain diseases and conditions, such as:
Lymphoma (a group of blood cancers).
Tumors in other parts of the digestive system.
It is also more common among:
Older adults, usually people 50 or older.
Lifestyle factors can also make you more likely to develop stomach cancer, including:
Eat a lot of salty or processed foods.
Eat a lot of meat.
You have a history of alcohol abuse.
Do not store or cook food properly.
Stomach cancer symptoms:
Early in the disease, it may cause:
Feeling bloated after a meal.
However, just because you have indigestion or acidity after a meal does not mean that you have cancer! If you feel these symptoms constantly, talk to your doctor.
As stomach tumors grow, you may have more serious symptoms, such as:
blood in stool
eyes or yellowish skin;
Constipation or diarrhea.
Weakness or tired feeling.
How is it diagnosed?
Doctors usually don’t routinely screen for stomach cancer, because it’s not common. However, if you’re at risk, talk to your doctor about how it’s diagnosed.
Your doctor begins with a physical exam, in which he asks about your medical history to see if you have any risk factors for it or if anyone in your family has it. After that, you may have some tests, including:
Blood tests: to look for signs of cancer in your body.
Upper endoscopy: Your doctor will place a thin, flexible tube with a small camera down your throat to look at your stomach.
Upper GI series test: You’ll drink a chalky liquid with a substance called barium. Fluid coats your stomach and makes it appear more clearly on X-rays.
Biopsy: Your doctor takes a small piece of your stomach tissue to check under a microscope for signs of cancerous cells, during an endoscopy.
What are the treatments for stomach cancer?
Many treatments can fight stomach cancer, the treatment you and your doctor choose depends on how long you’ve had the disease or how far it has spread in your body! Here are its stages and the treatments approved in each stage:
Chemotherapy: It is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. The chemotherapy drugs travel throughout the body, killing cancer cells that may have spread outside the stomach.
Chemotherapy is given before surgery to help shrink cancer so it can be removed more easily. It is also used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain in the body and is often combined with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Radiation therapy: It is given with high-energy beams such as X-rays and protons to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is used before surgery to shrink cancer so that it is easier to remove, and it can also be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Drug therapy: Focuses on specific weaknesses found within the cancer cells. In the case of stomach cancer, drug and chemotherapy are usually combined for advanced cancers or types of cancer that reappear in the body after treatment.
Immunotherapy: A drug treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. That’s because cancer cells produce proteins that make it more difficult for immune system cells to recognize cancer cells as dangerous.
Staging of stomach cancer:
Stage 0: When the inner lining of your stomach contains a group of unhealthy cells that may turn into cancer, surgery is usually the answer. The doctor removes part or all of your stomach, as well as nearby lymph nodes — small organs that are part of the body’s germ-fighting system.
Stage I: At this stage, you have a tumor in the lining of your stomach, which has likely spread to your lymph nodes. As with stage 0, you may have surgery to remove part or all of your stomach along with nearby lymph nodes. You may also be given chemotherapy, and these treatments may be used in