Stomach cancer is also commonly known as gastric cancer. It occurs when cells in any part of the stomach grow and divide abnormally. Tumors can develop anywhere in the stomach. A person suffering from the disease can survive for a longer period without even knowing. It usually grows slowly over many years. People in their late 60s and 80s are most likely to have stomach cancer.
Stomach Cancer Types
Almost all types of stomach cancers start developing in the glandular tissue that lines the stomach. It is more prone to spread to other organs. Gastric cancers are classified according to the type of tissue that is affected. Common types include:
It is considered one of the most common types of gastric cancer. It develops in the glandular stomach lining.
After adenocarcinoma it is the second most common cancer that affects the stomach. This cancer type occurs from lymphocytes.
It involves the connective tissue. These tissues include muscle, fat, or blood vessels.
From other primary cancer sites, cancerous cells spread in the stomach.
Other common types of stomach cancer include carcinoid, small cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Cancer?
Patients with gastric cancer usually do not experience early warning signs. Usually, people are not aware that something is wrong until cancer has progressed to an advanced stage.
The most common signs and symptoms of gastric cancer include:
- A painful or burning sensation in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Frequent heartburn or indigestion
- Unexplained tiredness or weakness
- Blood in vomit
- Black-colored feces
What are the Causes of Stomach Cancer?
Currently, healthcare providers are not able to determine the exact cause of gastric cancer. But few things can increase the development of the disease. One of the risk factors is infection with a common bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori. Some other factors that can increase the risk of having stomach cancer include:
- Smoking tobacco
- Being overweight or obese
- Chronic gastritis
- Pernicious anemia
- Stomach surgery for an ulcer
- Pernicious anemia
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- Working in coal, metal, timber, or rubber industries
- Type-A blood
- Drinking alcohol regularly
- Partial gastrectomy for ulcer disease
- Family history
Can Stomach Cancer Be Prevented?
Yes, you can reduce the risk of having gastric cancer. It can be achieved by:
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol
- Following a healthy eating pattern
- Treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection
How Is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed?
To find out if you have stomach cancer, your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history. He will perform a physical examination. Also, your doctor will suggest you undergo the following tests.
- Blood tests are used to look for signs of cancer in your body.
- Upper endoscopy is an effective diagnostic procedure to diagnose the disease. The doctor will insert a thin and flexible tube with a tiny camera down your throat.
- The Upper GI series test is a diagnostic test to examine the organs of the upper part of the digestive system.
- CT scans help to confirm the location of the cancer.
Supportive image: CT scan for diagnosing gastric cancer
- In Biopsy, the specialist takes a small piece of tissue from the stomach. He will look at it under a microscope for signs of cancerous cells.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Stomach Cancer?
Complications associated with stomach cancer may include:
- Anemia, a condition in which a person lacks enough healthy red blood cells.
- Ascites, a disease where a patient experiences a buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
- Nausea, sweating, diarrhea, and flushing after having a meal.
- Perforation of the stomach
- Pyloric stenosis
How is Stomach Cancer Treated?
Your healthcare provider will decide the best treatment plan after determining the stage and location of cancer. Your overall health also plays a vital role. Gastric cancer may spread to the lungs, lymph nodes, bones, and liver. Aside from treating the disease, the goal of treatment is to prevent the cancer cells from spreading further. Traditionally, the condition is treated with one or the combination of the below-mentioned treatments:
- Radiation therapy
Cancer patients, regardless of their stage, need support and information. Knowing all of the available options helps them to make effective decisions about their care.