An uncontrolled growth of cells is termed as a cancer. They are of different types, and one among them is stomach cancer. According to the World Health Organization, 8, 00,000 cancer-related deaths occur each year globally due to stomach cancers. It is the fourth most common cancer worldwide and is hard to diagnose and treat. Here are a few basic facts you need to know to beat the disease:
What is stomach cancer?
Your stomach is in the upper part of the digestive tract. It is responsible for digestion and assimilation of the food. Stomach cancer occurs when the healthy cells become cancerous and grow out of control forming a tumor. It is also known as gastric cancer. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of cancer in the stomach. About 95% of stomach cancer starts in the glandular tissue that lines the stomach wall.
Types of stomach cancer
The cells that form the tumor determine the type of stomach. The types of cancer include
- Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in the glandular cells that line inside of the stomach
- Lymphoma: Cancer that begins in the immune system cells
- Carcinoid cancer: Cancer that begins in the hormone-producing cells
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor: Cancer that begins in the specific nervous system cells
Signs and symptoms
Stomach cancer is not detectable at the early stages because it does not show any specific signs and symptoms. Before knowing the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer, you should remember that those listed below might be due to other illness like stomach ulcer or viral infection.
- Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting particularly after eating
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Bloating of the stomach after meals
- Loss of appetite
- Sensation of food getting stuck in the throat while eating
Symptoms of advanced stomach cancer
- Weakness and fatigue
- Vomiting blood
- Blood in the stools
- Unexplained weight loss
These symptoms persisting for a long time need to be evaluated by the physician.
The exact cause of cancer is not known. Doctors believe that there is a strong relation between a diet high in smoked and salted foods and stomach cancer. Cancer starts when structural changes occur in the DNA, an integral part of all the cells. Once the DNA structure changes, cells start multiplying without any control, resulting in a tumor.
A risk factor is a condition, disease, lifestyle, or a situation which increases the risk of developing a disease or condition. The risk factors associated with stomach cancer are:
- Diet rich in smoked foods and salts
- Diet lacking fresh fruits and vegetables
- Positive family history
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori
- Pernicious anemia
- Stomach polyps
- Improper storage of cooked foods
- Lack of exercise
- Gastritis (inflammatory disorder of the stomach)
- Chronic gastric ulcer
- Genetic predisposition
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis is based on medical history, detailed physical examination, blood tests and other imaging, and endoscopic tests.
Stomach cancer is treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and immunotherapy. The type of treatment depends upon the types of cancer and its stage.
Preventing Stomach Cancer
It is said that “Prevention is better than cure.” Stomach cancer cannot be prevented, but you can lower the risk of developing it by maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a balanced and low-fat diet, Quitting smoking and drinking, and exercising daily. It is also advisable to go for regular medical examinations with your medical consultant.