CANCER is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissues.
STOMACH is the internal organ in which the major part of the digestion of food occurs, being (in humans and many mammals) a pear-shaped enlargement of the alimentary canal linking the oesophagus to the small intestine.
STOMACH CANCER begins when cancer cells form in the inner lining of your stomach. These cells can grow into a tumor. Also called gastric cancer, the disease usually grows slowly over many years.
TYPES OF STOMACH CANCER
The most common type of stomach cancer is known as an adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is responsible for about 90 percent of all cases of stomach cancer.
Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that originates in glandular tissue. Specifically, it originates in a type of glandular tissue known as epithelial tissue, which lines the surfaces and cavities of the body’s organs. As all our organs are lined with epithelial tissue, adenocarcinomas can affect any organ where epithelial tissue is present, not just the stomach.
Adenocarcinoma of the stomach originates in the cells that form the innermost layer of the stomach in the mucus producing cells, called the mucosa.
While adenocarcinoma is the most common type of stomach cancer, it is not the only type. There are other, rarer types of stomach cancer, and the treatment and prognosis differ from adenocarcinomas.
Other types of stomach cancer may include:
- Gastric lymphomas: These are cancers of the immune system tissue located in the stomach. The immune system protects the body against infection and disease.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors: Also known as GIST, these types of stomach tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or cancerous. They form from cells in the stomach wall called interstitial cells of Cajal, a type of smooth muscle tissue.
- Carcinoid tumors: These stomach tumors are a rare, slow-growing type of cancer that originates in the cells of the nervous system and endocrine system.
CAUSES OF STOMACH CANCER
Research has linked certain dietary and lifestyle choices with higher rates of stomach cancer. Researchers think that salt and similar chemicals such as sodium nitrite, which is found in cured meats, can change into cancer-causing substances.
While fine to eat in moderation, a diet high in nitrate-rich foods has been linked to higher rates of stomach cancer. These foods include:
- Processed or cured meats
- Salted, pickled and smoked foods
Other diet and lifestyle choices that increase the risk of stomach cancer include:
- Smoking or using other tobacco products
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Stomach pain
- Blood in your stool
- Weight loss for no reason
- Trouble swallowing
- Yellowish eyes or skin
- Swelling in your stomach
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Weakness or feeling tired
- Being overweight or obese
- A diet high in smoked, pickled, or salty foods
- Stomach surgery for an ulcer
- Type-A blood
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- Certain genes
- Working in coal, metal, timber, or rubber industries
- Exposure to asbestos
TESTS AND TREATMENT
- To find out if a person truly have stomach cancer, the following tests are taken;
- Blood tests to look for signs of cancer in your body.
- Upper endoscopy. Your doctor will put a thin, flexible tube with a small camera down your throat to look into your stomach.
- Upper GI series test. You’ll drink a chalky liquid with a substance called barium. The fluid coats your stomach and makes it show up more clearly on X-rays.
- CT scan. This is a powerful X-ray that makes detailed pictures of the inside of your body.
- Biopsy. Your doctor takes a small piece of tissue from your stomach to look at under a microscope for signs of cancer cells. He might do this during an endoscopy.
- Stomach Cancer Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for stomach cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove the entire tumor and any cancer cells that may have spread (metastasized) to nearby tissue. Depending on the stage of the cancer, surgery may be the only treatment that you need. You may have surgery before or after another treatment.
- Targeted Therapies: Targeted therapies for stomach cancer can attack cancer cells without affecting healthy tissue, unlike radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Learn more about targeted therapies.
- Biologic Therapy : Biologic therapy is treatment with substances that are made naturally in the body or that can block the growth of cancer cells. This approach minimizes the side effects associated with traditional treatments like chemotherapy.
Biologic therapies can help:
- Boost the body’s ability to fight the disease
Direct the immune system to target diseased cells
Strengthen a weakened immune system