Dr. Sanket Mehta

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How Is Stomach Cancer Detected?

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, develops when normal cells in the stomach become aberrant and grow out of control.

How Is Stomach Cancer Detected?

Overview

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, develops when normal cells in the stomach become aberrant and grow out of control. Cancerous or benign tumours exist. A malignant tumour can grow and spread throughout the body.

The term “benign tumour” refers to a growth that will not spread. The formation of malignant cells in the stomach lining is gastric cancer. Gastric cancer risk varies depending on age, diet, and stomach illness.

Indigestion and stomach discomfort or pain are both symptoms of gastric cancer. Gastric cancer is a serious health problem that affects people worldwide. Surgery to remove stomach cancer is frequently required for treatment. Before and after surgery, further therapies may be indicated.

What Is Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer is caused by cancer cells growing in the stomach’s inner lining. These cells can develop into malignant cells. The condition is also known as stomach cancer and progresses slowly over time. People in their late 60s and 80s are most likely to get stomach cancer. 

In about 95% of all cases, almost all stomach cancers begin in the stomach’s glandular tissue. The tumour could either expand along the stomach wall or grow through it, shedding cells into the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Cancer can spread to other organs once it leaves the stomach.

The incidence of instances of stomach cancer has been progressively falling over the last few decades, presumably due to improved access to fresh food without preservatives or bacterial contamination due to the extensive use of refrigeration.

Types of stomach cancer

Stomach cancer comes in a variety of types. Adenocarcinoma is the most frequent type of stomach cancer, accounting for 90 to 95 per cent of cases. Primary gastric lymphoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumour and neuroendocrine cancers of the stomach are some of the other forms. Here is an overview of different stomach cancers.

  • Adenocarcinomas: Adenocarcinomas account for most stomach cancers, 90% to 95%. The gland cells in the stomach’s innermost lining give rise to these malignancies (the mucosa). This type of cancer is addressed in the information on the following pages about stomach cancer.

Adenocarcinomas of the stomach are divided into two types:

The prognosis for the intestinal type is slightly better outlook. Certain gene modifications in cancer cells are more likely, allowing for tailored medication therapy treatment.

The diffuse form is more likely to spread quickly. It’s less prevalent than intestinal cancer, yet it’s also more difficult to treat.

  •  Linitis Plastica: According to a study published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, linitis plastic is a rare subtype of stomach adenocarcinoma that accounts for 7% to 14% of cases. The cancer cells in this form spread throughout the stomach, stiffening the tissues. Linitis Plastica cancer has frequently progressed to lymph nodes by the time it is discovered. 

Other types of cancer that can start in the stomach

  • Lymphomas: Lymphomas are malignancies of the immune system that can begin anywhere lymph tissues exist, including the stomach.MALT lymphoma is a kind of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that most commonly affects the stomach. Cancer begins in the stomach’s lymph tissue.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumours: A bacterial infection, particularly one caused by helicobacter pylori or viral infection, is the most common cause of MALT lymphoma of the stomach. This cancer grows slowly and is usually diagnosed early.

Tumours can appear anywhere in the digestive tract, but the stomach accounts for 60 to 70% of all cases. Stomach GISTs can lead to:

    • Pain in the abdomen
    • The stomach has a mass or swelling.
    • Vomiting
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • The unexplained weight reduction
  • Carcinoid tumours: These tumours usually begin in the stomach’s hormone-producing cells. These tumours seldom spread to other organs and account for only around 3% of stomach cancer cases.

ECL-cell carcinoids of type I and II seldom spread to other body regions and may cause no symptoms.

ECL-cell carcinoids of type III are more aggressive. Carcinoid syndrome is a disorder defined by flushing, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constriction of the bronchial tubes in the lungs, and, in certain cases, heart problems such as valve failure caused by the excess hormone release of carcinoid tumours.

  • Hereditary (familial) diffuse gastric cancer: According to the National Cancer Institute, hereditary diffuse gastric cancer accounts for about 1% to 3% of all stomach cancers. This type of stomach cancer, caused by a hereditary abnormality handed down from parents to children, grows in numerous places of the stomach and spreads fast to other parts of the body. Genetic testing can disclose if someone has a mutation linked to HDGC.

What Causes Stomach Cancer?

A genetic mutation (change) in the stomach cells is the most common cause of stomach cancer. Cancer cells begin to increase in the stomach for unknown reasons. However, they know a few factors that can increase your disease risk. Infection with H. pylori, a common bacteria that causes ulcers, is one of them. Gastritis, a type of long-term anaemia known as pernicious anaemia, and polyps, which are growths in the stomach, can all increase cancer risk.

Other factors that appear to contribute to the risk are:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • A salty or smoked food diet
  • Regular consumption of alcohol
  • An ulcer in the stomach requires surgery.
  • Blood Type A
  • An infection with the Epstein-Barr virus
  • Several genes have been identified as being responsible for the development of
  • Working in the coal, metal, wood, or rubber industries is a great way to make money.
  • Asbestos poisoning

Stomach Cancer Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chances of having a disease like cancer is considered a risk factor. The risk factors for various tumours vary. Others are unalterable, such as a person’s age or family background. The following factors raise the risk of stomach cancer:

  • GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • Obesity
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables and high in salty and smoked foods
  • gastric cancer in the family
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • stomach irritation over time 
  • Stomach polyps from smoking

Can Stomach Cancer Be Prevented?

While there is no surefire way to avoid stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer), there are steps you may do to reduce your risk. Some types of stomach cancer are more common in people who are overweight or obese; therefore, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk. 

Regular exercise may also reduce your chances of stomach cancer. Apart from the potential implications of stomach cancer risk, maintaining a healthy weight and being active can help you avoid a variety of other malignancies and health issues.

Can Stomach Cancer Be Found Early?

Yes, because there are no warning symptoms in the early stages, stomach cancer can go undiscovered for years. Even though early indicators of stomach cancer are typically unclear, recognising them increases the chances of detecting the disease sooner. 

As cancer grows, the symptoms that arise can be mistaken for normal gastrointestinal problems. As a result, stomach cancer can lie unnoticed for years until the symptoms become alarming enough to require testing.

Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer:

  • Swallowing problems
  • After eating, feeling bloated
  • After consuming tiny amounts of food, feeling full
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • stomach ache
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vomiting

Tests for Stomach Cancer

The tests are listed below may be used to identify stomach cancer in addition to a physical examination:

1. Biopsy:

A biopsy is a technique that involves removing a small bit of tissue and examining it under a microscope. Other tests may indicate the presence of cancer, but only a biopsy can provide a definitive answer. 

2. Tumor Molecular Analysis:

Your doctor may suggest that laboratory tests be performed on a tumour sample to identify specific genes, proteins, and other specific components.

3. Endoscopy:

A doctor can see the body with a gastroscope or endoscope. During an endoscopy, the doctor can take a tissue biopsy and examine it for cancer indications.

4. X-ray:

An x-ray uses a small amount of radiation to produce a picture of the structures inside the body.

5. Barium Swallow:

A person takes a series of x-rays after swallowing a barium beverage. The oesophagus, stomach, and intestines lining are coated in barium, making tumours and other abnormalities easier to view on an x-ray.

6. CT or CAT scan:

A CT scan uses x-rays from various angles to create images of the inside of the body. A computer combines these images into a detailed, three-dimensional image that displays any anomalies or malignancies. The size of the tumour can be determined via a CT scan. 

Diagnosing stomach cancer:

These procedures used to diagnose stomach cancer include:

1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer-killing medicine. Before surgery, chemotherapy can help shrink cancer and make it easier to remove.

2. Radiotherapy

Radiation therapy can be used before surgery to reduce stomach cancer and make it easier to remove. After surgery, radiation therapy can eliminate any cancer cells that remain.

3. Personalised medication

Drugs that target specific flaws in cancer cells are known as targeted therapies. Targeted medication treatments can kill cancer cells by blocking these vulnerabilities. 

4. Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a medicine that aids your immune system in the battle against cancer. Because cancer cells develop proteins that make it difficult for immune system cells to detect them as dangerous, your body’s disease-fighting immune system may fail to battle cancer. Interfering with that mechanism is how immunotherapy works.

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