What Is Stomach Cancer?

Stomach or gastric cancer, is the malignant (cancerous) growth of stomach cells.

Most stomach cancers (95%) usually start in the glandular tissue that lines the stomach. Then the tumor may spread into other regions of the stomach, and even shed cells into the bloodstream and other organs of the body.

Signs and symptoms

Like many types of cancer, stomach cancer may also have nonspecific symptoms.

One of early signs of gastric cancer is microscopic internal bleeding, that can be found out after tests checking your stool for blood. The other sign may be fatigue due to bleeding.

The common symptoms of early stomach cancer are the following:


  • Upper abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea and loss of appetite
  • Feeling of fullness even if eaten only a very small amount of food, etc.

However, if the disease has already in the more developed stages, then you may also notice other symptoms like severe fatigue, weight loss and iron deficiency.

Causes and risk factors

stomach cancer

by TipsTimes under CC BY-SA

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It is difficult to reveal the exact causes of stomach cancer. But according to studies, some people are more likely than others to experience gastric cancer.

Here are the following risk factors for stomach cancer found by researchers:

  • Age – This disease affects mainly the people under 72.
  • Sex – Most of the stomach cancer sufferers are men.
  • Race – It is mostly found in parts of Eastern Europe, and Latin America, Japan, China, and Korea.
  • Family history – can be a further risk factor.
  • Diet – nutrition low in fruits and vegetables, but high in salted, smoked or pickled foods can cause stomach cancer.
  • Helicobacter pylori infection – a type of bacteria commonly living in the stomach may also increase the risk of stomach cancer.
  • Smoking also increases the risk of the disease.
  • Blood type A – People with this blood type are at greater risk of gastric cancer than others.

Certain diseases or disorders including stomach inflammation, chronic gastritis, pernicious anemia, as well as stomach surgery can also lead to stomach cancer.

Prevention

To prevent stomach cancer one should avoid all the above-mentioned risk factors and regularly control his/her health condition.

In additional to that, if you had stomach surgery 20 years ago or longer, each year you should endoscopy your stomach to timely prevent possible risk for gastric cancer.

Gastric cancer types and forms

Stomach cancer may have the following forms depending on the type of tissue it originates from:

Adenocarcinomas – the most common type which starts in the glandular stomach lining.

Lymphomas – involve the lymphatic system affecting the immune system.

Sarcomas – affect the connective tissue like muscle, fat, or blood vessels.

As for the treatment of gastric cancer, it depends on the results of tests and your general health condition.

In many cases, the stomach cancer requires surgery during which the stomach is removed completely, and the esophagus is attached to the small intestine.

Diagnosis

During the diagnosis of stomach cancer the following 2 procedures are applied:

Gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy is important, as it gives a clear view of the area of concern and also allows taking a sample of tissue (biopsy) to confirm the disease.

Barium studies are effective in detecting stomach cancer as well. But sometimes it may be less effective in the diagnosis of small tumors.

To completely confirm the diagnosis, the areas seen on barium study have to be certainly checked through endoscopy.

Facts

  • More cases of stomach cancer are detected at an early stage of development.
  • Gastric cancer is considered to be the 2nd main cause of cancer-related death worldwide.
  • It is still the seventh most frequent cause of cancer death in the U.S.
  • Stomach cancer affects about 9200 people in the UK each year.
  • The people after age 50 are at higher risk of stomach cancer. Statistics shows that most sufferers are the people under 60s, 70s and 80s.
  • Overweight or obesity may be one of the main risk factors of gastric cancer, especially in the upper part of the abdomen. Almost 50% of cancers found in this area of the stomach are caused by obesity or smoking.
  • If the disease is found at an early stage of development, in the 70% cases sufferers have more chance for long-term survival.
  • According to CalfCramps.net Stomach Crams guide, if you experiencing stomach cramps often, it can be the early sign of gastric cancer.
By Leo