Dr. Sanket Mehta

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What is Stomach Cancer?

The stomach, positioned in the upper belly, is responsible for food digestion. Food is pushed down the oesophagus, a muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach when it is eaten.

What is Stomach Cancer?

Overview

The stomach, positioned in the upper belly, is responsible for food digestion. Food is pushed down the oesophagus, a muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach when it is eaten. 

Stomach cancer is a type of cancer that develops from the cells that line the stomach. Like all malignant cells, these cells develop abnormally quickly. There are frequently no symptoms early in the course of the disease. Indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and a feeling of being full sooner than usual may develop as the condition advances. 

What Is Stomach Cancer?

A malignancy or unrestrained growth of abnormal tissue of the stomach lining is known as gastric cancer or stomach cancer. This cancer is frequently caused by infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. 

The most frequent kind of stomach cancer is adenocarcinoma. Lymphomas, carcinoid tumours, and gastrointestinal stromal tumours are some of the other types of cancer. Unfortunately, because stomach cancer has few early symptoms and indicators, it is frequently discovered late in its progression. 

Stomach cancer or  Gastric cancer can appear anywhere in the stomach and spread to other organs. Loss of appetite and weight loss are common stomach cancer symptoms. A biopsy of stomach tissue is taken during an endoscopy to diagnose gastric cancer.

What Causes Stomach Cancer?

The stomach is in charge of digesting food and then transporting nutrients to the rest of your digestive system, specifically the small and large intestines. A tumour forms when usually healthy cells in the upper digestive system get malignant and expand out of control. 

This is a slow procedure. Stomach cancer usually takes a long time to grow. It is the sixth most frequent cancer globally and the third most common cause of cancer-related fatalities. The cells that grow in the mucosa give rise to cancer of this type. It’s the mucus-producing lining of the stomach. 

Helicobacter pylori, often known as H. pylori, is a common bacterium that causes ulcers and stomach inflammation. It’s also one of the primary causes of stomach cancer. Doctors understand that stomach cancer starts when a cell’s DNA in the stomach changes. 

The instructions that inform a cell what to do are stored in the DNA of that cell. When healthy cells die, the alterations tell the cell to grow quickly and live on. As the cells build up, they form a tumour that can invade and destroy healthy tissue. Cells can break off and spread to other parts of the body over time.

What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Cancer?

Symptoms of early-stage stomach cancer or gastric cancer are uncommon. Most stomach cancers aren’t discovered until they’ve grown rather large or moved outside the stomach in nations where screening for stomach cancer isn’t routine.

When stomach cancer manifests itself, the following signs and symptoms may occur:

  • Appetite problems
  • Loss of weight (without trying)
  • Abdominal (belly) discomfort
  • Uncertain abdominal pain, generally above the navel
  • Feeling stuffed with only a modest dinner
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, whether bloody or not
  • Abdominal swelling or fluid accumulation
  • Stool with blood

As a result of having too few red blood cells, you may feel tired or weak (anaemia). If cancer has gone to the liver, the skin and eyes will turn yellow (jaundice). A viral infection or an ulcer are more likely causes of these symptoms than stomach cancer. 

How Is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed?

Exams and tests will be required if stomach cancer is suspected. Other tests may be required to understand more about cancer if it is discovered.

  • Upper endoscopy: This is also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy EGD), the most common test performed if your doctor suspects you have stomach cancer. This allows the doctor to examine the inside lining of your oesophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Biopsy samples can be taken using equipment passed through the endoscope if abnormal regions are discovered. 
  • Biopsy: If an abnormal-looking spot is seen during an endoscopy or imaging test, your doctor may suspect cancer, but a biopsy is the only way to know. Instruments can be passed down the endoscope to biopsy any abnormal regions in the stomach lining seen during the endoscopy. Some stomach cancers begin deep within the stomach wall, making endoscopy difficult to sample.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests provide images of the inside of your body by using x-rays, magnetic fields, sound waves, or radioactive chemicals. Imaging tests are performed for several reasons, including:
    • To assist in determining whether a suspicious spot is cancerous.
    • To assist in determining whether or not treatment was successful.
  • Computed Tomography scan: C.T. scans employ x-rays to provide detailed cross-sectional images of the body’s soft tissues. C.T. scans can reveal the stomach in detail and often confirm the presence of cancer. C.T. scans can also reveal other areas of the body where stomach cancer has spread, such as the liver and lymph nodes nearby. This can aid in determining cancer’s extent and whether surgery is a viable therapeutic option.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: An MRI, like a C.T. scan, can produce detailed images of the body’s soft tissues. Instead of x-rays, MRIs employ radio waves and powerful magnets. This test isn’t as common as C.T. scans for detecting stomach cancer, but it can be useful in some cases, such as screening for liver tumours.

What Are Stomach Cancer Treatments?

Surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy can all treat stomach cancer. The following are descriptions of the most prevalent therapy methods for stomach cancer. Treatment for symptoms and side effects may be part of your cancer treatment plan.

    • Surgery: The tumour and some surrounding healthy tissue are removed during surgery. The surgery utilised is determined by the cancer’s stage. When the cancer is still in its early stages, surgery is utilised to remove the cancerous portion of the stomach and adjacent lymph nodes. A subtotal or partial gastrectomy is the name for this procedure. Surgery and chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy may be done if cancer has progressed to the outer stomach wall with or without lymph node involvement.
    • Radiation therapy: High-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells is known as radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can be performed before or after surgery to reduce the tumour or kill any leftover cancer cells.
    • Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancer cells by preventing them from growing, dividing, or increasing. Chemotherapy can be used to kill cancer cells that remain after surgery, halt tumour development, or relieve cancer symptoms. There is currently no universally accepted chemotherapeutic treatment protocol.
    • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that focuses on the genes, proteins, or tissue environment that contribute to cancer growth and survival. This sort of treatment stops cancer cells from spreading and causing damage to healthy cells.
    • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy, also known as biological therapy, is used to strengthen the body’s natural defences against cancer. It improves, targets, or restores immune system function using materials created by the body or in a laboratory.

What is the survival rate in stomach cancer?

The 5-year survival rate is 70% if the cancer is detected and treated before it spreads outside the stomach. The 5-year survival rate is 32 % if cancer has spread to other tissues or organs and regional lymph nodes.

How Can I Prevent Stomach Cancer?

These actions will lower your chance of stomach cancer:

  • Limit your alcohol intake and avoid using cigarette products.
  • Smoked and pickled meals, as well as salted meats and fish, should be avoided.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta, and rice.
  • Keep a healthy weight.

 Risk factors: The following factors raise the risk of stomach cancer.

  • GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • Obesity
  • Gastric cancer in the family
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Stomach irritation over time (gastritis)
  • Stomach polyps from smoking

When to see a doctor

If you detect a change that isn’t usual for you or if you have any of the probable cancer signs and symptoms, you should consult your doctor. If you’re unsure what the symptom is, don’t wait to visit them. If you don’t schedule an appointment, your anxiety is unlikely to go away. It’s possible that the symptom isn’t related to cancer.

If it is, the sooner it is detected, the better the chances of successful therapy. What you tell your doctor is kept private. Doctors are used to talking about personal issues and will try to put you at ease.

FAQ:

1. Can Stomach Cancer Go Undetected?

As cancer grows, the symptoms that arise can be mistaken for common gastrointestinal problems. As a result, stomach cancer can lie unnoticed for years until the symptoms grow severe enough to merit testing.

2. Stomach Cancer Curable if Caught Early?

Stomach cancer, like all cancers, is best treated early on before it spreads to other parts of the body.

3. How Long Is Recovery After Stomach Cancer Surgery?

The length of your stay in the hospital is determined by the type of stomach surgery you underwent, your age, and your overall health. You’ll probably be in the hospital for 3–10 days, but a gastrectomy can take 3–6 months to recover from fully.

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