Stomach Cancer is the growth of cancerous cells within the lining of your stomach. There is a possibility that these calls might grow into a tumor. Also known as gastric cancer, this type of cancer grows slowly over several years, and is difficult to diagnose, as patients don’t show symptoms in the early stages.
Sometimes, it even goes undiagnosed until it spreads to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat.
There are generally various signs and symptoms of stomach cancer, and some of them include:
- Feeling bloated after a meal
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling full after eating small amounts of food
- Stomach pain
- Unintentional weight loss
Causes & risk factors
Modern science is still researching what exactly makes cancer cells grow in the stomach. Few things are known to increase your risk for the disease. One of them is infection with bacteria which causes ulcers. Inflammation in your gut, which is known as gastritis can also increase the risk. Pernicious anemia, which is a type of long-lasting anemia, and certain growths in your stomach known as polyps are also known to make you more likely to get cancer.
Few other factors that might increase the risk of stomach cancer include:
- A diet high in smoked, pickled, or salty foods
- Being obese or overweight or obese
- Type- A blood
- Working in coal, timber, metal, or rubber industries
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- Stomach surgery for an ulcer
- Exposure to asbestos
- Certain types of genes
Stages of Stomach Cancer:
Stage 1: Cancer is present in the inner lining of the stomach.
Stage 2: Cancer has spread into the deeper layers of stomach & nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 3: Cancer has spread to all the layers in the stomach as well as to the nearby organs like spleen or colon.
Stage 4: Cancer has spread far and wide to organs like the liver, lungs, or brain.
Imaging tests generally include positron emission tomography (PET) and CT scans.
Your doctor may also need to perform surgery to check if cancer has spread beyond your stomach, within your chest, or your abdomen. Exploratory surgery is usually done laparoscopically. This means the surgeon will be making several small incisions in your abdomen and next insert a special camera that transmits images to a monitor in the operating room.
Depending on your situation, other staging tests might be used as well.
The information from these procedures might be used by your doctor to assign a stage to your cancer, which ranges from 0 to IV. The lowest stage indicates that the cancer is quite small and has affected only the stomach’s inner layers. However, by stage IV, the cancer is considered to be quite advanced and may have spread to other areas of the body.
Removing early-stage tumors from the lining of the stomach
Tiny cancers that are limited to the inside lining of your stomach can be removed by passing special tools using an endoscope. Procedures for cutting away cancer from the inside lining of the stomach include endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal resection.
Total gastrectomy involves the removal of the entire stomach as well as some surrounding tissue. After this, the esophagus is connected directly to your small intestine so that food is able to move through your digestive system. Total gastrectomy is generally meant for stomach cancers affecting the body of the stomach as well as those located in the gastroesophageal junction.
Removing lymph nodes to look for cancer
Surgery to relieve signs and symptoms
Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment, that uses high-powered beams of energy, such as protons and X-rays to kill cancer cells. In this method, you lie on a table, over which a machine moves around you, sending the energy beams.
This treatment might be given before surgery as well, to help shrink cancer so that it might be removed more easily. Chemotherapy is also used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might be remaining in the body. Sometimes it might also be combined with radiation therapy.