Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is a group of abnormal (cancerous) cells that form a tumor in a part of the stomach. Symptoms of stomach cancer include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, difficulty in swallowing, blood in the vomit, blood in the stool, and feeling bloated even after eating less food.
The treatment of stomach cancer depends on the size and location of the tumor and the treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Stomach cancer survival rate
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 7,23,000 deaths worldwide are due to stomach cancer.
If it can be diagnosed and treated before it spreads beyond the stomach, then its patients have a survival rate of up to 67% for the next 5 years.
If the cancer spreads to the surrounding tissues, the patient’s survival rate for the next 5 years is 31%. And if it spreads far, then in this situation the patient’s life rate for the next 5 years remains 5%.
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Stomach cancer status in India
Stomach cancer is seen less in India than in developed countries. However, stomach cancer has been seen in large numbers in some states of India like southern and northeastern states.
In 1991, stomach cancer was the fifth most common cancer among men and the seventh most common cancer in women in India.
According to the Tata Memorial Center in 2012, stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in India. According to reports, the death of 25,200 men and 27,500 women was recorded due to this. No estimate of hidden cases is available.
What is Stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer is caused by abnormal changes in the DNA of stomach cells to form a tumor. It usually occurs in cells located in the inner lining of the stomach, and over time spreads to the abdominal wall. It can also spread to nearby organs such as the liver, pancreas, esophagus and intestines.
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Symptoms of Stomach cancer
Stomach Cancer Symptoms Female
There are many symptoms associated with stomach cancer that are also associated with many other types of serious diseases. For this reason, stomach cancer is difficult to detect at an early stage. Many stomach cancer patients are not diagnosed until the cancer has advanced significantly.
The early symptoms of stomach cancer include the following –
- Sudden feeling of fullness while eating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling of bloated stomach after eating food
- frequent burping, feeling of burning in the chest
- Indigestion that doesn’t get better
- Abdominal pain or chest pain
- Feeling full of air in stomach
- Blood vomit
Many of these symptoms are similar to those of other, less serious diseases. However, those who are at high risk of stomach cancer should see a doctor immediately if they have difficulty swallowing.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer Progression
When stomach cancer has reached an advanced stage, then these symptoms can be-
- accumulation of fluid inside the abdomen,
- causing the stomach to feel lumpy
- Anaemia Black colored stools or blood in stool
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Stomach Cancer Causes
How/Why does stomach cancer happen?
Stomach cancer begins when the DNA of a cell in the stomach changes. This change causes cells to grow rapidly and while normal cells die out over a period of time, these cells continue to grow and aggregate to form tumors.
Over time, these cancer cells can break off from the tumor and spread to other areas of the body. This process is called “metastasis”.
It is not clear why these changes in DNA occur, although several factors have been identified that may increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Factors that increase the risk of Stomach cancer
- Food back up in the oesophagus
- Too much salt in the diet
- Decreasing fruits and vegetables in the diet
- Family history of stomach cancer
- H pylori infection
- Long-term inflammation of the stomach (gastritis)
- Stomach polyps
Stomach Cancer Prevention
How can Stomach cancer be prevented?
There is no clear cause of stomach cancer, so there is no precise way to prevent it. But by making some small changes in everyday life, the risk of stomach cancer can be reduced. For example you can practise these –
- Exercise daily
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Reduce the amount of salty and fried foods in your diet
- Stop smoking
- Use aspirin or other NSAID medicine only under a doctor’s supervision. Talk to the doctor about the risk of stomach cancer . You can also consult a doctor about endoscopy to look for signs of stomach cancer.
Stomach Cancer Diagnosis
How is Stomach cancer diagnosed?
In the early stages of stomach cancer, its symptoms or signs are rarely seen. Stomach cancer is often diagnosed only when it progresses.
Physical examination and pre-patient information
Your doctor will first do a physical examination of you. This includes signs of disease, such as a lump or other feeling in the abdomen. The doctor asks about your health habits and past diseases. A blood test may also be done to check for H pylori.
If the physical examination shows signs of stomach cancer, then some tests will need to be done after that. Tests are done to examine the stomach, esophagus or wherever there is a possibility of tumor.
- Blood Chemistry Studies – These blood tests are done to check the amount of certain substances released into the blood by the organs and tissues of the body.
- Upper endoscopy – This is a process of taking information inside the body, with the help of which abnormal processes are happening in the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) etc.
- Barium Swallow – In this procedure, several X-rays of the stomach and esophagus are done, but before this the patient is given a liquid mixed with barium (a white silver-like metal). This test is also called the “Upper GI Series”.
- CT Scan – With the help of CT scan, important information about body parts can be found. These pictures are created by a computer that is connected to an X-ray machine.
- Biopsy – In this, a sample of tissue is taken to check for the presence of cancer cells. This is the only confirmatory diagnostic test to confirm cancer.
Stomach Cancer Treatment
What is the treatment for Stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy. Which option would be right for you depends on several factors such as the severity of the cancer, the patient’s health and their preferences. Your doctor will help you make the right choice keeping all the factors in mind.
The aim of surgery is to remove the tumor from the body. Along with the tumor, some healthy tissue around it is also removed.
There are three options for surgery –
- Endoscopic mucosal resection – the purpose of this is to remove the tumor from the stomach at an early stage of cancer.
- Subtotal gastrectomy – In this, the cancer-affected part of the stomach is removed. Total gastrectomy – in this surgery the entire stomach is removed.
- All these surgeries are complicated and recovery can take a long time. The patient may have to stay in the hospital for two weeks after the surgical procedure. After that the patient has to rest for several weeks to recover at home.
In radiation therapy, cancer cells are destroyed with the help of rays of energy. Radiation therapy is not commonly used to treat stomach cancer because of the risk of damaging other nearby organs. However, radiation therapy may be used if the stomach cancer has progressed significantly or/and symptoms such as severe pain and bleeding have occurred.
Chemotherapy uses certain drugs that kill rapidly growing cancer cells. These drugs are known as cytotoxic drugs. Chemotherapy is considered the main treatment method for gastric lymphoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumors and some other types of gastric cancer.
Targeted Drug Therapy
For example, some medicines such as Sutent (sunitinib; sunitinib), Gleevec (imanitinib; imatinib) etc. are prescribed to patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors. These attack specific types of cancer abnormalities.
What to avoid eating in Stomach Cancer?
What should be avoided in stomach cancer?
Some harmful foods that should be avoided. Some of which are mentioned below:-
- Processed meats – Meat is believed to be closely related to cancer in the digestive system and with stomach cancer. In such a situation, many doctors recommend reducing the intake of prepared meat and even many doctors are now advising to leave it completely.
- Salt-rich food – The body needs a limited and small amount of salt for its normal process, but some people have started consuming more salt-rich foods than necessary. Foods high in salt are linked to stomach cancer. Do not consume potato chips, and canned snacks in large quantities, also avoid using salt pans while eating.
- Helicobacter pylori – It is also important to protect yourself from getting infected with Helicobacter pylori. These are common bacteria that cause ulcers in the stomach, which increases the risk of stomach cancer.
What to eat in Stomach Cancer?
What to eat if you have stomach cancer?
Diet is considered an important part of stomach cancer treatment. Nutrition requires taking in the right amount of calories, vitamins, proteins, and minerals. Which maintains strength in the body and helps in curing diseases.
- Foods high in protein – For protein, drink more milk, eat eggs and cheese.
- Fibre-rich foods, but in moderation – When choosing whole grains, choose whole wheat breads, whole grain pasta and whole rice. These foods contain high amounts of fiber. But they should be eaten in moderation because you can feel uncomfortable after eating them. This also applies to bean beans, lentils, leafy vegetables and cabbage, etc.
- Diet without salt – Stomach cancer patients often feel nauseated. Eating food without salt can give relief from this.
- Clear liquids – Drinking fluids such as apple juice, broth (soup), tea etc. slowly can be beneficial.
Stomach Cancer Types
How many types of stomach cancer are there?
There are four types of cancer –
- Adenocarcinomas – This cancer begins to develop in the cells that make up the mucosa – the most superficial layer of the stomach that produces mucus. Adenocarcinomas are a very common type of stomach cancer. Adenocarcinomas account for 90%–95% of all stomach cancers.
- Lymphoma – This cancer is a cancer of the tissues of the body’s immune system. Which can develop anywhere in them, including the abdominal and lymphatic tissues. Lymphoma is very rare in stomach cancers. Compared to all other stomach cancers, it is seen in only 4%.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors – This is also a very rare type of stomach cancer. It develops into a special type of cell, which is found in the lining of the stomach, which is also called interstitial cell. With the help of a microscope, the cells of GIST (Gastrointestinal stromal tumors) become similar to muscle and nerve cells. Its tumor can develop anywhere in the entire digestive system, but 60-70% of its cases are found in the stomach.
- Carcinoid tumors – It develops mainly in the hormone-producing cells in the stomach. Its tumors do not spread to other internal organs in the abdomen. This type of stomach cancer is found in only 3% of patients.
Stomach Cancer Stages
What are the stages of stomach cancer?
The stages of stomach cancer are determined by how far the cancer has developed in the stomach, and how far it has spread by the time it is diagnosed. Cancer staging is the process of finding out how far the cancer has spread before making a diagnosis.
Cancer stages are used to describe the spread of a tumor. The stage is often detected with the help of some scans and other tests.
Knowing the stage of cancer is essential, as it helps the doctor in finding the best treatment for the patient’s disease. Apart from this, the patient also gets to know the condition of cancer well and can talk to the doctor about the concerns related to it.
Different types of cancer are divided into different stages. But usually doctors use the “cancer stage system” or “TNM system”.
Cancer Stage System
Stage 1 – In this stage, the cancerous tumor is confined to the tissues of the upper layer of the esophagus (esophagus) or the inside of the stomach. But it may happen that the cancer cells have spread to some limited lymph nodes in the vicinity.
Stage 2 – In this stage, the cancer has spread more deeply into the muscles of the esophagus or stomach. Apart from this, the cancer has also spread more to the lymph glands.
Stage 3 – In this stage the cancer has spread to all layers of the esophagus or stomach and has also spread to nearby organs in the body. It can also emerge as a small cancer and spread widely to the lymph glands.
Stage 4 – In this stage the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body.
TNM system There are three sections in TNM system –
- T (Tumor) – How deep or how seriously has the main tumor of the cancer spread into the lining of the abdomen?
- N (Node/Node) – Has the tumor spread to the lymph node? If it has spread, by how much and to what extent?
- M (Metastasis) – Is cancer developing in other parts of the body as well? Points are awarded to all three categories during the test. And by mixing these together, it is known how far the cancer has spread.
(Disclaimer: The information in this part of the article is for educational purposes only. All results must be clinically correlated with patient data in order to make an accurate diagnosis.)
- American Cancer Society Atlanta, Georgia, U.S; What Is Stomach Cancer?.
- American Cancer Society Atlanta, Georgia, U.S; Stomach Cancer Risk Factors.
- Stanford Health Care. Stanford Medicine, Stanford University; Upper GI series
- Stanford Health Care. Stanford Medicine, Stanford University; Targeted Therapy: About this Treatment
- American Cancer Society Atlanta, Georgia, U.S; Radiation Therapy for Stomach Cancer.