Stomach cancer also referred to as gastric cancer, occurs when cancer cells grow in the inner lining of the stomach. The cancer cells can eventually grow into a tumor and it takes a number of years of slow growth. It is the third leading cause of death from cancer globally, accounting for nine percent of deaths.
Stomach Cancer Symptoms
Knowing the symptoms of stomach cancer can be of help as early detection can enhance easy treatment. Some of the disease’s initial symptom include;
- upper abdominal pain
- bloating after meals
- loss of appetite and nausea.
Nonetheless, some of these symptoms such as indigestion or bloating do not necessarily mean you have stomach cancer. However, if these symptoms persist, it’s important to consult a doctor so as to assess other risk factors and make the appropriate and accurate diagnosis.
Other symptoms that may be noticed later as the tumor grows include;
- yellow skin
- sudden weight loss
- difficulty in swallowing food
- yellowish eyes
- swelling in the stomach
- feeling weak or tired
- blood in the stool among others.
Stomach Cancer Causes
The exact cause of cancer cells growing in the stomach has not been entirely clear, however, scientists do know a number of things that can elevate an individual’s risk for the disease. First and foremost, is being infected by the common bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, bacteria that cause ulcers. This bacteria account for more than sixty percent of the cases and the extent of the risk it poses depends on its type.
Other causes of stomach cancer include;
- growth of polyps in the stomach
- long lasting anemia
- inflammation in the gut
- stomach surgery for an ulcer
- type A-blood
- being overweight
- certain genes
- a diet concentrated with smoked, pickled or salty food
- exposure to asbestos
- working in a coal, metal, timber or rubber industries.
Stomach Cancer Diagnosis
The diagnosis involves a physical exam. The doctor will also ask an individual about his or her medical history so as to assess any present risk factors for stomach cancer or whether there is a possibility of genetic inheritance.
Below are some tests that may be done during a stomach cancer diagnosis;
- CT scan; this involves a strong x-ray that produces detailed pictures of the stomach from its inside.
- Upper endoscopy; this involves putting a thin, flexible tube that features a tiny camera, down a patient’s throat to have a clear and close visual of the stomach.
- Biopsy; this involves an analysis under a microscope of a small piece of tissue, retrieved from the patient’s stomach probably during the endoscopy.
- Blood tests may also be taken to look for cancer signs in the blood
- Upper GI series test; this involves intake of a chalky fluid that contains barium. The fluid makes the stomach show more clearly on x-rays.
Stomach Cancer Treatment
Majority of stomach cancer cases cannot be cured completely; however, the symptoms can be relieved to enhance a better quality of life. Treatment is done through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery or a combination of them. This is as listed below;
- Surgery can be done to remove some or all of the stomach, a procedure referred to as gastrectomy. It is done when the patient is sedated. One is able to eat normally after this surgery however, one may require adjusting the size of the food portions.
- Chemotherapy aids in killing the cancer cells and takes a number of weeks. One may also undergo chemotherapy before undergoing surgery so as to aid in shrinking the tumor. Chemotherapy may also be done after surgery to help prevent a recurrence of the cancer.
- Radiation; this involves high energy waves that kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. An x-ray or another machine may be used to beam radiation at the point where the tumor is located. radiation may also be used to relieve the symptoms as well as prolong an individual's life since it cannot cure the cancer.
- neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy.