Stomach Cancer – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer is a cancer that grows in the stomach. It is also called as gastric cancer. It is characterized by the growth of cancerous cells within the lining of the stomach. Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer worldwide.
What causes stomach cancer?
What causes stomach cancer is not exactly known. What is known is there are many risk factors for stomach cancer. Several types of cancer can occur in the stomach. The most common type is called adenocarcinoma. It grows from one of the cell types found in the lining of the stomach.
The following are the risk factors for stomach cancer:
- Being woman
- Age of more than 50 years
- Diet low in fruits and vegetables
- The family history of gastric cancer
- Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach
- History of larger than 2 cm stomach polyp
- Chronic atrophic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach for a long time)
- Pernicious anemia
- Tobacco use
What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?
There may not be any symptoms in the early stages of the stomach cancer. The following are the common symptoms of stomach cancer:
- Abdominal fullness or pain (may occur after a small meal)
- Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen
- Difficulty swallowing, which becomes worse over time
- Excessive belching
- General decline in health
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting blood
- Weakness or fatigue
- Weight loss
- Dark stools
How is stomach cancer diagnosed?
Most stomach cancers are discovered by doctors when a person goes to them due to some signs and symptoms of other gastric disorders. Diagnosis is also delayed because symptoms may not occur in the early stages of the disease. And many of the symptoms, when they occur, do not specifically point to stomach cancer.
The following tests can help diagnose stomach cancer:
- Complete blood count (CBC) to check for anemia.
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) with biopsy to examine the stomach tissue.
- Stool test to check for blood in the stools.
How is stomach cancer treated?
Gastrectomy (surgical removal of the stomach) is the standard treatment for adenocarcinoma. This surgical procedure may cure it. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also help. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy after surgery may improve the chance of a cure.
For some people, a surgical bypass procedure may relieve symptoms.
For people who cannot have surgery, chemotherapy or radiation is given. This may improve symptoms and may prolong survival, but may not cure the cancer.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.