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Stomach (Gastric) Cancer: Overview of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted on- Aug 28, 2015
  • 405 Views

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, begins when cells on the inside lining of the stomach (adenocarcinoma) become abnormal and grow hysterically. Stomach cancers are classified according to the type of tissue from which they originate. The most common forms of stomach cancer include adenocarcinoma, lymphomas and sarcomas. The precise cause of stomach cancer is not clear, but various medical conditions can increase the risk, including:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • A diet rich in smoked, pickled, or salty foods
  • Stomach surgery for an ulcer
  • Certain genes
  • Working in coal, metal, timber, or rubber industries

Stomach cancer is often seen in people over age 55, and affects men more than women.

Symptoms related to stomach cancer

Stomach cancer is usually not detected early because it often does not cause specific symptoms. However, when they do occur, they may include:
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting, particularly vomiting up solid food shortly after eating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating of the stomach after meals
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sensation of food getting stuck in the throat while eating
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Vomiting blood or having blood in the stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Trouble swallowing

Tests and diagnosis for stomach cancer

When you show some of the initial symptoms such as indigestion, weight loss, nausea, and loss of appetite, your doctor may recommend screening tests including:
  • Blood tests to look for disease-causing substances in the blood and complete blood count to determine the number of red blood cells.
  • X-rays of the esophagus and stomach which helps the doctor find tumors or other abnormal areas.
  • Fecal occult blood test to look for blood in the stool
  • Gastroscopy test examines the esophagus and stomach using a thin, lighted instrument called a gastroscope, which is passed through the mouth down to the stomach. This helps the doctor look at the inside of the stomach.
  • A biopsy procedure is performed in which the doctor removes some tissue for examination. It is the only sure way to diagnose cancer.
  • CT scans, MRI are also performed that provide detailed images of the organs.

Treatment options for stomach cancer

Treatment options and recommendations for stomach cancer depend on type of cancer, possible side effects, and the patient’s preferences and overall health. Your doctor will discuss several options with you, including:
  • Surgery: The aim of the surgery is to remove all of the stomach cancer and some healthy tissues, when possible. Options include: A.Removing early-stage tumors from the stomach lining B.Removing a portion of the stomach known as subtotal gastrectomy C.Removing the entire stomach known as total gastrectomy D.Removing lymph nodes to look for cancer e.Surgery to relieve signs and symptoms
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy can be used before surgery to shrink a stomach tumor so that it's easily removed. The therapy uses high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays, to execute cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. It can be given before surgery to help shrink a tumor for easy removal. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with radiation therapy.
  • Targeted therapy: This type of therapy uses drugs that attack specific irregularities within cancer cells.

Prior to the commencement of treatment, discuss any possible side effects of your specific treatment plan with the oncologist. If you experience any problem during the treatment, be sure to inform him.