After swallowing, food moves through the esophagus (food pipe) and then enters a sac-like organ in the upper abdomen called the stomach. The stomach keeps food and starts to digest it by secreting gastric liquid. The stomach empties food saturated with gastric juice into the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum.
Cancer occurs when an error (mutation) occurs in a cell’s DNA. The cells then separate and improve uncontrolled. These accumulated cells form cancer. The abdomen wall is created of five layers of tissue. Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, occurs in the innermost layer, mucus-producing cells that line the stomach. It then advances and spreads.
RISK FACTORS FOR STOMACH CANCER
Anything that raises the risk of someone getting cancer is a risk factor. The risk factor does not directly cause the disorder. Some with various risk factors will not get the disease, while some with no known risk factors will get it.
RISK FACTORS FOR STOMACH CANCER ARE:
- Older age
- Male gender
- Infection with a bacterium called H. pylori
- Persistent inflammation called gastritis
- Pernicious anaemia
- Certain types of polyps in the stomach
- Diet high in smoked, pickled
- Diet deficient in fruits and vegetables
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Inherited cancer syndromes
SYMPTOMS OF STOMACH CANCER
While stomach cancer is comparatively unique compared to other types of cancer, one of the dangers of this disease is the challenge of diagnosing it. Gastric cancer like most gastrointestinal cancers is asymptomatic in the first stages. It often goes undiagnosed until after it expands to other parts of the body. This makes it difficult to treat.
THE SYMPTOMS, IF OCCUR, INCLUDE:
- Indigestion, heartburn, and bloating
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- New satiety (feeling full after eating only a small amount of food)
- Bloody or black stool
- Gastric pain, which may be more serious after meals
- Nausea and vomiting, with or without blood
- Vague discomfort in the upper abdomen
- Low haemoglobin (anaemia)
DIAGNOSIS OF STOMACH CANCER
- Upper GI endoscopy: An instrument namely an endoscope is moved into the throat to reach the esophagus that gives a check to the irregular areas of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus.
- Barium swallow: A fluid containing barium is made to drink by the person before carrying an X-ray. The liquid forms a coating over the esophagus and stomach making it possible to take an X-ray to diagnose the stage of cancer.
- CT scan: This technique is used to get accurate pictures of areas inside the body which are taken from different angles and the pictures are printed on a computer linked to an x-ray machine
- Biopsy: Biopsy is done by eliminating cells or tissues and viewed under a microscope for diagnosing signs of cancer.
- Blood tests: Blood samples are collected and tested for amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the stomach.
What are the treatments meant for stomach cancer?
- Surgery: Surgery could be done to remove the stomach cancer either by removing the part of the stomach affected by cancer or eliminating the complete stomach. The type of surgery chosen depends on the extension of the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: This method of treating stomach cancer uses medicines to inhibit the increase of the cancer cells which can be done either by blocking their majority or destroying the cancerous cells.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation, which are purposely done to destroy cancer cells or prevent their growth.
- Chemoradiation: Chemoradiation treatment is a combination treatment including both chemotherapy and radiation therapy which is done to enhance the therapeutic effects of both the treatment.
- Targeted therapy: The use of antibiotics, or any other medicinal substance to identify and attack the specific cancer cells and does not produce any effect on the normal or undamaged cells.