Stay Up-To-Date With Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer A-Z: Signs, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention | DoctorOnCall

Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the stomach. It typically starts in the lining of the stomach and can spread to other organs such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and intestines. Stomach cancer is a serious and life-threatening disease if not detected at an early stage.

Risk Factors for Stomach Cancer

There are several risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing stomach cancer. Some risk factors can be avoided, while others cannot be controlled or prevented. Let's take a closer look at these risks.

1.  H. Pylori Bacterial Infection

The H. pylori bacterium is the leading cause of stomach cancer. This bacterium can live in the human stomach and has the ability to damage the protective lining of the stomach. When this infection persists, it can cause damage to stomach cells and promote the development of stomach cancer.

2.  Unhealthy Diet

Most cases of stomach cancer occur due to an imbalanced and unhealthy diet.  High-fat, smoked and salted foods can raise your risk of stomach cancer. A diet low in fibre can also increase the risk of stomach cancer.

3.  Genetic Factors

Stomach cancer can also be a genetic factor, with a person being more likely to develop the disease if they have a family history of the disease.

4.  Smoking

Smokers are more likely to develop stomach cancer. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can damage stomach cells and harm organ function.

5.  Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol in alcoholic beverages can damage stomach cells and harm organs in the body. Regular consumption of alcoholic beverages can increase the risk of stomach cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

There are several stomach cancer signs and symptoms to be aware of, including:

  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially after eating
  • Frequent burping
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes
  • Persistent cough and shortness of breath
  • Stomach ache or discomfort
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Anaemia or low blood count

If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should seek medical attention at a clinic or hospital.

How to Detect Stomach Cancer

This cancer can be detected at an early stage by conducting appropriate tests and examinations. Here are some ways to detect stomach cancer:

1.  Physical Examination

A physical examination typically conducted by a doctor includes measuring weight, examining the abdomen and checking for signs of cancer such as enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and armpit. 

The doctor will also observe symptoms of stomach cancer, such as nausea, vomiting and weight loss.

2.  Blood Tests

Blood tests may be performed to detect signs of stomach cancer, such as an increase in white blood cell count, a decrease in haemoglobin, as well as an increase in tumour marker levels.

Blood tests, however, are insufficient to confirm a diagnosis of stomach cancer.

3.  Endoscopy

Endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that involves the use of a specialised tool called an endoscope to examine the stomach lining. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach during this procedure. 

During an endoscopy, the doctor can collect tissue samples for further analysis in order to identify active cancer cells.

4.  Biopsy

A biopsy is the removal of a tissue sample from the stomach for testing in a laboratory. Typically, the tissue sample is obtained during an endoscopy or surgical procedure. Doctors use biopsies to determine the type and stage of stomach cancer.

Treating Stomach Cancer

There are several methods for treating stomach cancer, such as:

1.  Surgery

Surgery is a common treatment for early-stage stomach cancer. The goal of this procedure is to remove the tumour entirely or in part.

Surgery can cure stomach cancer if the tumour is still small and haven't spread yet.

2.  Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that involves the use of drugs that kill cancer cells. It can be given before or after surgery. Chemotherapy is typically administered via intravenous injection or tablet.

Chemotherapy drugs that are commonly used include 5-FU, cisplatin and oxaliplatin.

3.  Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy employs the use of X-rays to kill cancer cells. It is typically used to treat early-stage stomach cancer or to alleviate symptoms associated with advanced-stage cancer. Radiation therapy can be administered either before or after surgery.

4.  Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the immune system to kill cancer cells. This is accomplished by using drugs that stimulate the immune system's response to attack cancer cells. Immunotherapy is frequently combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Pembrolizumab and nivolumab are two immunotherapy drugs that are commonly used to treat stomach cancer.

5.  Other Treatments

In addition to common stomach cancer treatments, doctors will also provide other treatments to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and weight loss. These treatments include medications to relieve stomach pain and anti-nausea medications.

Preventing Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer can be prevented by taking the following preventative measures:

1.  Maintain a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prevent stomach cancer. Avoid foods high in sugar and fat.

Reduce your intake of smoked or preserved foods as they might contain cancer-causing chemicals.

2.  Quit Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of developing stomach cancer. If you are a smoker, you should stop immediately. Avoid smoking areas and keep others away from cigarette smoke if you don't smoke.

3.  Reduce Alcohol Intake

Drinking alcohol in large quantities can increase the risk of stomach cancer, so try to limit or lower your alcohol consumption if you do drink.

4.  Maintain a Healthy Weight

Keeping your weight under control can also help lower your risk of developing stomach cancer. Practise an active lifestyle, eat balanced meals and avoid unhealthy, high-calorie foods to achieve a healthy weight.

5.  Regular Check-Ups

Regular check-ups, such as blood tests and stomach endoscopies, can detect stomach cancer at an early stage. Seek medical attention immediately If you have a family history of stomach cancer or experiencing symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and weight loss. 

The Life Expectancy of Stomach Cancer Patients

The life expectancy of patients with stomach cancer is generally determined by the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. Life expectancy is higher in stages 1 and 2 of stomach cancer than in stages 3 and 4.

Patients with stage 1 stomach cancer have a 90% five-year survival rate, while patients with stage 2 have a 70% to 80% five-year survival rate.

Patients with stomach cancer in stages 3 and 4 have a lower life expectancy, with a five-year survival rate of less than 30%.

Taking proper preventive measures can help prevent and reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

Take Care of Your Health Today

Early detection of stomach cancer is important in ensuring that patients receive appropriate treatment. It also contributes to lower treatment costs and increases the likelihood of complete recovery.

Maintaining a healthy body is critical for lowering the risk of stomach cancer. Improve your quality of life by adopting healthy lifestyle habits and keeping a close eye on your health. Remember that prevention is better than cure.

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