Know all about Stomach Cancer

What is ‘Stomach Cancer?’

Stomach is a muscular sac like structure situated in the upper part of your abdomen. It receives and stores the food consumed, and it’s here that the breakdown and digestion of food starts. Stomach cancer occurs when cancer starts in the inner most lining of the organ and grows into a tumor. The other name for stomach cancer is Gastric cancer

Stomach Cancer

Causes and risk factors for Stomach Cancer

Numerous causes and risk factors have been implicated and these include:

  • A diet high in salty and smoked foods

  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables

  • Family history of stomach cancer

  • Long standing inflammation – gastritis

  • Infection with bacteria named Helicobacter pylori

  • Eating foods contaminated with aflatoxin fungus

  • Exposure to certain chemicals like asbestos, rubber, coal

  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Smoking

  • Stomach polyps

  • Blood group A

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

These are the following symptoms, associated with the spread of Stomach Cancers.

  • Heart burn
  • A bloated up feel or unbearable abdomen pain once you have had a meal
  • Vomiting of undigested food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Bloody or tarry stools
  • Too much of fatigue

Diagnosis of Stomach Cancer

The symptoms at the initial stages of the disease are usually mistaken for indigestion and ignored by the patient. A thorough history and physical examination by your physician will help him suspect stomach cancer. However these are the following tests, your doctor advocates, in order to detect a stomach cancer

  • Blood tests to look for signs of cancer - Hemoglobin, ESR, Albumin

Diagnostic tests include

  • An upper Gastro Intestinal Endoscopy (A long flexible tube fitted with a camera and light is passed down your throat to look at the esophagus and the stomach)
  • A biopsy, where the doctor takes a sample of the tissue from suspicious areas to check for cancer
  • Imaging tests, such as CT scans and X-Rays - These will tell about the location and extent of the disease and give a rough idea about the stage of the cancer.

Treatment of Stomach Cancer

  • Treatment depends on the stage of your disease and overall health status and personal preferences
  • Surgery – The main aim of surgery is removal of the cancer along with a margin of healthy tissue and along with draining lymph nodes, which are sites of earliest spread of cancer. Depending on the amount of stomach that needs to be removed, it may either be a Subtotal Gastrectomy or Total Gastrectomy. Very early tumours have the option of Endoscopic treatment
  • Chemotherapy- This is a form of therapy where drugs are given as pills or injections to kill cancer cells. They are either taken before surgery or after surgery depending on the stage of the disease. Chemotherapy has few side effects like nausea, vomiting, fatigue and skin pigmentation, which usually settle down once therapy is complete.
  • Radiation- High energy X ray waves are applied to the tumor area through specialized x ray machines to destroy cancer cells.
  • Preventing Stomach Cancer – Test and treat bacterial infections like H. Pylori, consume diet rich in fruits and vegetables and high in fiber content and avoid too much of salted and smoked foods. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid smoking

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