Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Gastric cancer is a condition in which stomach cell growth is abnormal and uncontrolled. Check out the full explanation of the symptoms, causes, and how to treat it below.
What is Stomach Cancer?
Stomach cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the lining of the stomach and is more common in old age. This cancer usually develops slowly and is only recognized after many years.
Until now it is not known exactly what causes cancer cells to start developing in the stomach. However, one of the factors that can increase the risk is a bacterial infection H. pylori which causes stomach ulcers.
Stomach Cancer Symptoms
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the symptoms of stomach cancer are generally not recognized by sufferers until this cancer reaches an advanced stage. However, you may recognize the most common early symptoms, which include:
- Stomach ache.
- Bloody stools.
- Continuous nausea and vomiting.
- Swollen belly.
- No appetite.
- Always feeling bloated after eating.
- Feeling full even though you only ate a little.
- Severe and prolonged heartburn.
- Severe indigestion that almost always occurs.
- Weight loss for no apparent reason.
If you experience one or more of the characteristics of gastric cancer, it is not certain that you have this cancer. It is better to consult a doctor if you experience digestive disorders that do not go away.
When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?
If you experience symptoms related to the stomach, stomach or digestive system for a certain period of time that do not go away, contact your doctor immediately. The doctor will examine and diagnose exactly what disease you might be experiencing.
Also Read: Beware, Stomach Acid Disease Can Trigger Cancer
Causes of Stomach Cancer
This cancer is formed when there is a genetic mutation (change) in the DNA of stomach cells. DNA is the instructions that tell cells when to grow and when to die.
Due to mutations, cells grow so fast that they eventually form tumors instead of dying. Cancer cells in the stomach can attack and destroy healthy body tissue. These cells may start to grow deeper into the abdominal wall.
Over time, cancer cells can break off and spread to other parts of the body. Cancer cells spreading to other parts of the body is called metastasis.
The following are several factors that increase a person’s risk of developing cancer, including:
- Pernicious anemia (long-term anemia).
- Lymphoma (a group of blood cancers).
- Bacterial infection H. pylori (bacteria in the digestive tract).
- Stomach polyps (abnormal tissue in the lining of the stomach).
- Tumor in other digestive tract near stomach.
- Obesity complications.
- Postoperative abdominal complications.
In addition, lifestyle factors also increase the risk of this type of cancer, namely:
- People who rarely exercise.
- Frequent consumption of salty or processed foods.
- People who eat too much meat.
- People with a history of alcohol abuse.
- People who do not process food in a healthy way.
This cancer risk factor is also higher in the following groups of people:
- Elderly over the age of 50 years.
- Someone who has a family history of the disease.
- People of Asian descent especially Korean or Japanese, South American, or Belarusian.
- Side effects of the working environment in the coal, metal, wood, or rubber industries.
Having one or more of the risk factors mentioned does not mean you will develop the cancer. Even so, make sure to live a healthy diet and life to avoid any type of cancer.
Stomach Cancer Diagnosis
The initial examination is carried out through continuous screening to obtain complete information regarding the condition of the stomach. The doctor will also do a physical examination and medical history.
The doctor will submit several examinations for the diagnosis of this cancer, including:
- Blood tests to detect signs of active cancer cells.
- Upper endoscopy examination uses a thin tube equipped with a small camera to see the condition of the patient’s digestive system.
- Examination of the upper abdomen or upper gastrointestinal. The patient will drink a barium liquid which will coat the stomach so that the condition of the stomach is more clearly visible using an X-ray.
- CT scan examination or examination using X-rays.
- Biopsy, examination by taking samples of stomach tissue which will then be examined in the laboratory.
Other tests may be needed, such as blood tests to track whereabouts H. pylori causes of digestive system disorders such as ulcers and peptic ulcers.
Types of Stomach Cancer
This type of cancer is determined by cells where the cancer started Here’s the full explanation:
- Adenocarcinoma. Stomach cancer adenocarcinoma starts in the cells that produce mucus. This is the most common type of stomach cancer. Nearly all cancers that start in the stomach are adenocarcinoma of the stomach.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). GIST begins in specialized nerve cells found in the wall of the stomach and other digestive organs. GIST is a type of soft tissue sarcoma.
- Carcinoid tumor. Carcinoid tumors are cancers that start in neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells are found in many places in the body. These cells perform some of the functions of nerve cells and some of the work of cells that make hormones. Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor.
- Lymphoma. Lymphoma is cancer that starts in cells of the immune system. This condition can sometimes start in the stomach if the body sends immune system cells to the stomach. This condition may occur if the body tries to fight infection. Most of the lymphoma that occurs in the stomach is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Also Read: Gastric Ulcer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Stomach Cancer Stage
Stomach cancer has several stages according to the level of severity, including the following:
- Stage I: Tumors in the stomach are in the tissue lining the inside of the esophagus or stomach. While the cancer cells may have spread to some of the nearby lymph nodes of the stomach.
- Stage II: Active cancer cells spread deeper in the stomach to the muscle lining or stomach wall. Meanwhile, cancer cells also spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage III: Cancer cells have spread to the lining of the stomach or esophagus and spread to more nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage IV: Cancer cells have spread to lymphatic tissue and other parts of the body.
Because this condition tends to be asymptomatic, some people only realize it when the cancer is at an advanced stage.
Stomach Cancer Treatment
There are several treatment options that are adjusted to the stage and overall health condition. Here are some ways to treat it:
Surgery is the best option for early-stage cancer patients or when cancer cells have not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. Surgery is performed to remove all cancer cells in the digestive tract including the esophagus or stomach.
2. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is done by using X-rays to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy is also recommended before surgery to shrink the tumor so that it is easier to remove during cancer surgery.
Chemotherapy is cancer treatment with drugs to kill harmful cancer cells. When patients take chemotherapy drugs, the drugs will spread to clear out cancer cells throughout the body or cancer cells that may start growing outside the stomach.
The combination of cancer treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy is also the most potential option for cancer treatment. The doctor will make the best treatment plan for the patient. Cancer treatment will be adjusted according to risk factors, age, health conditions, and cancer stage.
Stomach Cancer Complications
This condition can worsen health conditions and increase the risk that cancer cells will spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body, such as:
- Lymph gland.
Please note, cancer complications will be more difficult to treat. Even so, the doctor will provide the best treatment and treatment options.
If you experience the characteristics of stomach cancer from the start, you should immediately consult a doctor so as not to cause more serious complications.
Also Read: Acid Reflux Disease: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Stomach Cancer Prevention
While the cause is unknown, this cancer can be difficult to prevent. Even so, you can prevent all diseases by adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle. In addition, you can reduce cancer risk factors in several ways, including:
1. Healthy Diet
Make sure you eat vegetables and fruit every day. Don’t forget to eat high fiber and vitamin foods such as pears, strawberries, avocados, apples, bananas, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, almonds, or oatmeal.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obese people are at higher risk of developing various chronic diseases, including cancer and diabetes. So, maintain an ideal body weight by diligently eating fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly. Use the BMI calculator to measure your ideal weight.
3. Pay attention to stomach health
If you have a history of gastric disease such as ulcers or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), then treat this problem immediately. Stomach infection due to bacterial infection H. pylori may increase the risk of other gastric diseases.
4. Don’t smoke
A smoker has a greater risk of developing cancer. In addition, smoking has been proven not healthy at all for the body. So, you should not smoke if you want to be healthy and live a long life.
5. Pay attention to the use of certain drugs
Some drugs have side effects such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can affect stomach function. Consult with your doctor before and while using this medicine.
There are many benefits of exercise for health, including reducing the risk of developing cancer. Try low-intensity exercise for at least 15 minutes a day. After that, you can increase the type and schedule of your exercise according to your conditions and needs.
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- Anonymous. 2018. Stomach cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stomach-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352438. (Accessed 5 May 2020).
- Anonymous. 2020. Stomach Cancer. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/stomach-gastric-cancer#3-8. (Accessed 5 May 2020).
- Cherney, Kristeen. 2017. Stomach Cancer (Gastric Adenocarcinoma). https://www.healthline.com/health/gastric-cancer. (Accessed 5 May 2020).
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