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All You Need To Know About Stomach Cancer

Dr. Ravi Kshirsagar

MD (USA) PGDDE (UK) Consultant Physician and Diabetologist.

4 min read

Cancer is observed as an unrestrained growth and multiplication of abnormal cells in the body. Abnormal cells alter their pathway from the usual path and finally turns into cancer cells. Unfortunately, patients with gastric cancer are diagnosed in their advanced stages, as no symptoms come to the fore in early stages.

Stomach Or Gastric Cancer
Stomach or gastric cancer is defined by the expansion of cancer cells in the stomach lining. In many cases, there are no sign or symptoms at early stage and as a result, diagnosing this type of cancer becomes crucial. This is why stomach cancer is the fifth most common disease worldwide, and the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths.

What Makes Stomach Cancer Different
One of the significant risks of this cancer type is the complexity of detecting it. As stomach cancer shows symptoms in the later stage, it usually remains undiagnosed until it reaches out to other organs. Hence, treating this disease becomes hard.
Stomach composes of oesophagus, a food pipe, which is just one fraction of the upper section of the digestive system. The stomach is responsible for digesting the food and transferring the nutrients to the small and large intestines. So generally, cells in the upper gastrointestinal tract turn cancerous and grow beyond control, gradually developing into a tumour. Therefore, stomach or gastric cancer develops over time.

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Risk Factors
This type of cancer is associated with tumours in the abdominal section. Yet, there are a few factors which boost the risk of formation of these tumorous cells. Diseases such as lymphoma, helicobacter pylori infection, chronic atrophic gastritis, stomach polyps and tumours in other areas of the digestive system increase the risk of cancer.
It is more common in older adults who are 50 years of age and beyond, smokers and also the workers in the metal, coal and rubber industries. In addition, it is common among those with a family history of gastric cancer. People in Asian countries, especially of Japanese and Korean descent along with those with Belarusian origin are at risk of developing this type of cancer. Studies suggest that stomach cancer can be associated with the diet, salty food, including smoked fish, red meat preserved meats, rotten fruits and vegetables.

Early stomach cancer has no symptoms, as in most cases, it is diagnosed accidentally. Most symptoms of gastric cancer reflect advanced disease and the most common among them being upper abdominal pain or discomfort, frequent heartburn, generalised weakness, stomach pain and constant bloating.

In most cases, people with stomach cancer rarely exhibit any sign in the initial stages. As a result, the tumour remains undiagnosed until the later stages. To diagnose cancer, doctors may conduct a physical check-up to detect any signs of abnormalities. Doctors can also suggest a blood test, including medical examination to check for Helicobacter pylori infection.
Additional medical tests will be required in case the doctor senses any sign of stomach cancer. Diagnosis is usually by biopsy, which is done during endoscopy. It is then followed by a CT/PET scan to determine if the disease has spread to other parts of the body.

Stomach cancer is one of the fifth most common disease worldwide and the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death in the world.

For stomach cancer, there exist standard treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy which has progressed over the past ten years. Doctors usually recommend that the treatments be supplemented with immune therapy, as these tumour cells are much easier to destroy with immune cells.
Dendritic cell treatment is often used when conventional therapies fail to succeed. However, it is a gentle treatment when compared to chemotherapy or radiation.
Also, in contrast with other forms of therapies, dendritic cell treatment causes side effects on rare occasions and the specific treatment plan is based on the cause and stage of the tumour. However, overall health and age of the patient also play a crucial role. Further more, surgery remains the only curative therapy for stomach cancer.

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Preventing this type of cancer is difficult. Moreover, one can minimise the risk of developing cancer by keeping body weight under control, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating a nutritious, balanced and low fat diet. Quitting smoking and alcohol and exercising daily also reduce the risk of gastric or stomach cancer.