Gastric Cancer, also known as Stomach Cancer, is defined as the proliferation of uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells, in the inner lining the stomach. Being one of the common types of cancer, gastric cancer grows slowly over many years and it is quite difficult to diagnose since a lot of people don’t show symptoms at the earlier stages. Also Read: Pancreatic Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
The stomach produces gastric juices which help in digestion of the food and then pass along the food to the intestines for nutrient absorption. Cancerous tumours usually occur when the cells lining the stomach and the lower part of the oesophagus have abnormal growth and form a tumour.
Types Of Gastric Cancer
Stomach Cancer also known as gastric carcinoma originates in 3 types:
- Gastric Adenocarcinoma
- Mesenchymal Tumour
Although the exact cause of gastric cancer is yet unknown, there are a few factors that may increase the risk of getting this type of cancer:
- Stomach infection due to H. pylori bacteria
- Tumours in other parts of the digestive system
- Diet having an excess of pickled, salty or smoked food items
- Exposure to asbestos
- Lymphoma. Also Read: Lymphoma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
- Stomach polyps
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- Being overweight or obese
- Hereditary factor
- Addiction to smoking
Much to our dismay, although the cancer cells keep on spreading within the stomach tissues, common signs and symptoms don’t come until the advanced stages. These symptoms include:
- Feeling bloated
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Bloody stool
- Yellowish eyes and skin, showing jaundice
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Constipation or diarrhoea
Diagnosis And Treatment
It is advisable to see a doctor if you are at risk of getting gastric cancer or notice any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms. The doctor usually does a thorough physical examination to check for any abnormalities, followed by blood tests to analyse the presence of the H. pylori bacteria. Once the presence of cancerous cells is confirmed, the doctor usually performs the following tests:
- Imaging techniques like X-ray, CT-scan etc.
- Biopsy to understand the extent and particular stage of the cancer
Stages of Gastric Cancer:
Growth of tumour is restricted to the top layer of the tissues that outlines the inside of the oesophagus or stomach.
At this stage, the cancer cells have spread deeper, into the muscle layer of the oesophagus or stomach wall and may have also spread to the lymph nodes.
The cancer cells usually spread to all the layers of the oesophagus and stomach and onto more lymph nodes.
This is the advanced stage where the cancer cells have spread to distant areas and organs of the body.
Treatment options usually depend on the stage of cancer and involve:
- Surgery: This includes Endoscopic Mucosal Resection, Total Gastrectomy, and Subtotal Gastrectomy.
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
Although it is impossible to prevent the growth of cancer cells in the body, there are some precautionary factors that can be maintained to reduce the risk of getting it:
- Regular exercise
- A diet containing more fruits and vegetables
- Reduce the intake of salty and smoked foods
- Quit smoking
- Reduce or quit consuming alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight