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Stomach Cancer: Stages, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Know about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment about the leading cause of cancer related deaths.

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Stomach cancer is the growth of cancerous cells within the lining of the cells. Stomach cancer generally occurs in the mucus forming cells that line the stomach. This type of cancer is referred to as adenocarcinoma and accounts for about 90-95% of the stomach cancer cases.

According to National Cancer Institute, stomach cancer is difficult to diagnose as it doesn't cause any symptoms in the early stages.

Also known as gastric cancer, stomach cancer is one of the leading cause of cancer deaths across the globe. By the time you may be diagnosed with stomach cancer, it is likely to have reached the advanced stage and must have metastasized.

Metastasis occurs when cancer spreads to the other parts of the body. Let's know more about the stages, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the cancer.

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Stomach Cancer: Stages

According to the American Cancer Society, doctors examine and take test for cancer as well as to understand how far the cancer has spread. This process is known as staging. There are four stages of stomach cancer.

In stage I of stomach cancer, cancer is limited to the top layer of the tissue lining the inside of the stomach.

At stage II, cancer has spread deeper into the muscles of the stomach walls.

At stage III, cancer may have grown through all the stomach layers and spread to structured surrounding the stomach.

Stage IV proves that the cancer has metastasised.

Stomach Cancer: Causes

The stomach is the upper part of the digestive tract that is responsible for the process of digestion and the absorption or movement of nutrients to the rest of the digestive organs.

At times, the cells or tissues of the stomach become cancerous and grow out of control to form a tumour. According to the doctors at Mayo Clinic, there are certain risk factors which predisposes a person to the development of cancer cells. These are:

  • H.pylori bacterial infection

  • Smoking

  • Stomach polyps

  • A diet high in salty, spicy and smoked food

  • A family history of the stomach cancer

  • Lymphoma

  • Long-term stomach inflammation

  • GERD

  • Obesity

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Stomach Cancer: Symptoms 

According to the National Cancer Institute, the main challenges of the stomach cancer is that there are no symptoms in the early stages of cancer and that is why it goes undiagnosed in majority of the cases. The signs and symptoms that a stomach cancer patient shows at the advanced stages include:

  • Fatigue

  • Severe and frequent heartburns

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal discomfort which increases after meals

  • Bloody stools

  • Loss of appetite

  • Bloating

  • Unintended weight loss

  • Jaundice

  • Feeling full after small meals

Stomach Cancer: Diagnosis 

Your doctor may ask you about your medical history to know if you have any risk factors for stomach cancer and would like you to inform of any family member with the disease. In order to make a diagnosis and be sure of the disease, the doctor may carry out one or more tests.

  • Imaging tests which may include CT scans and a special type of X-ray called barium swallow.

  • Endoscopy helps the doctor visualise your stomach and check for any signs of stomach cancer. If he finds any suspicion, he may carry out a biopsy.

  • In order to check for the metastasis of the cancer, exploratory surgery may be carried out.

Stomach Cancer: Treatment 

The treatment of the cancer depends on various factors like stage of the cancer, the overall health of the patient and preference of the patient or his family. American Cancer Society suggests the following cancer treatment:

  • Surgery helps remove the cancerous cells of the stomach and deal with other health issues.

    • It may be for removing early stage tumors from the lining of the stomach.

    • Sub gastrectomy may help remove only the affected part of the stomach

    • Full gastrectomy may remove the entire stomach with the nearby tissues.

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  • Radiation Therapy and chemotherapy are used to kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy uses a high beam of powerful energy like X-rays or protons to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses chemical to kill the cancerous cells injected or taken orally.

  • Medication like trastuzumab ramucirumab, imatinib may be used for targeted drug therapy and can be used along with chemotherapy.

  • Supportive care provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other trained professionals helps improve the quality of life of the cancer patients. It may help them feel better and live longer.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  stomach cancer 

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