Stomach cancer is abnormal cell growth that starts in the stomach. The stomach receives and holds the food you eat and then helps break it down and digest it.
It is also known as gastric cancer and can attack any part of the stomach. In almost everyone, stomach cancer forms in the central part of the stomach (or body of the stomach). But in the USA, stomach cancer is most likely to attack where the long tube (oesophagus) your food travels through joins the stomach. This area is called the “gastroesophageal junction.”
Where cancer occurs in the stomach is one factor that doctors consider when determining possible treatments.
Symptoms of Stomach cancer
Signs and symptoms may include the following:
- Difficulty to swallow
- The bloated feeling
- stomach acidity
- unintentional weight loss
It’s unclear what causes stomach cancer, although research has identified many factors that may elevate the risk.
Doctors know that stomach cancer begins when a cell in the stomach develops changes in its DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell the cell what to do. The differences say that the cell increases and continues living when healthy cells die. The accumulated cells form a tumour that can invade and destroy healthy tissue. Over time, the cells can break off and spread (metastasise) to other body areas.
Factors that elevate the risk of stomach cancer include the following:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- A diet high in smoked and salty foods
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Prolonged inflammation of the stomach (gastritis)
To reduce the risk, you can do the following:
Keep a healthy weight. If you’re obese or overweight, talk to your doctor about strategies to help you lose weight.
Follow a diet with lots of vegetables and fruit. Try to eat more fruits and vegetables in your diet each day.
Reduce the salty and smoked foods you eat. To protect your stomach, limit these foods.
Quit smoking. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start now. It increases the risk of cancer and many other types of cancer.
Ask your doctor about your risk of stomach cancer. Consult the doctor if you are at increased risk of stomach cancer. For example, people with a strong family history of stomach cancer might consider tests, such as an endoscopy.
They are removing a tissue sample for testing (biopsy). In addition, special tools may be used to remove a tissue sample for testing if any suspicious areas are found during the upper endoscopy.
Imaging tests. Imaging tests used to screen for stomach cancer include CT scans and a particular type of X-ray exam called videofluoroscopy of swallowing.
Determining the extent (stage) of stomach cancer
to select the location of cancer, including the following:
Blood test. Blood tests to measure organ function can show whether other organs in the body may be affected by cancer.
Endoscopic ultrasound. It is used to create images of the stomach. Endoscopic ultrasound helps doctors determine if cancer has penetrated very deep into the stomach wall.
Imaging tests. Tests may include CT scans and positron emission tomography scans.
Exploratory surgery. Your doctor checks for signs that may tell if cancer has spread outside the stomach, chest, or abdomen. Exploratory surgery is usually laparoscopic.
Depending on your situation, other tests may be used to establish the stage.
Your doctor uses the information obtained in these procedures to assign a stage to your cancer. Roman numerals indicate stomach cancer stages from 0 to IV. In stage IV, the cancer is considered advanced and may have spread to other body areas.
An endoscopy involves inserting a long, flexible tube (endoscope) down your throat and into your oesophagus. An endoscope allows the doctor to examine the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum, where the small intestine begins.
Treatment of stomach cancer depends on the cancer’s location, stage, and aggressiveness. When putting together your treatment plan, the doctor also considers your general state of health and your preferences.
Surgery aims to remove all cancer and some healthy tissue around it.
Operations used for stomach cancer include the following:
Removal of early-stage tumours from the lining of the stomach. If the cancer is microscopic and limited to the inside lining of the stomach, it may be removed by endoscopy. Procedures to remove cancer from the stomach’s inner lining include endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal resection.
Removal of the entire stomach (total gastrectomy). Total gastrectomy involves the removal of the whole abdomen and some of the tissue around it. The oesophagus then connects directly to the small intestine to allow food to pass through the digestive system. Total gastrectomy is most often used for stomach cancer that affects the body of the stomach and that located at the gastroesophageal junction.
Lymph node removal for cancer screening. Doctors may remove some lymph nodes from your abdomen and test them for cancer.
Surgery to relieve signs and symptoms.
In Chemotherapy, chemicals are used for the treatment of cancer cells. These drugs travel throughout the body and attack cancer cells that may have spread beyond the stomach.
Chemotherapy may be given to help shrink cancer so it can be removed more easily. this drug treatment is combined with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as protons and x-rays, to kill cancerous cells.
For stomach cancer, radiation therapy may be used before surgery to shrink cancer so it can be removed more easily. this therapy is used to kill any cancer cells that may remain. Radiation therapy is often combined with Chemotherapy.
Specific drug therapy
Specific drug treatments target specific weaknesses present within cancer cells. By blocking these weaknesses, specific drug treatments can cause cancer cells to die. For stomach cancer, particular drugs are often combined with Chemotherapy if the cancer is at an advanced stage or comes back after treatment.
The doctor can examine the cancer cells to see which specific drugs are likely to be most effective.
it is a drug treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer. Your body’s disease-fighting immune system may not attack cancer because cancer cells produce proteins that make it harder for immune system cells to recognize cancer cells as dangerous. Immunotherapy interferes with that process.
For stomach cancer, immunotherapy may be used when the cancer is advanced, comes back, or spreads to other body parts.
Palliative (supportive) care
Palliative care is specialized medical care that relieves pain and other symptoms of a severe illness. Palliative care can be provided when the patient is undergoing intensive treatments, such as Chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery.