What is stomach cancer? What are the risk factors?
Although etiology of stomach cancer is not clearly known, it is two times more prevalent in persons older than 55 years and in men than women. It is estimated that gastric ulcer increases risk of the stomach cancer. However, scientific studies show that Helicobacter pylori – bacterium that leads to inflammation and ulcer in stomach – is a risk factor that increases risk of the stomach cancer. Studies also reveal out that risk of the stomach cancer is boosted by history of gastric surgery, gastric atrophy – a condition causing lower gastric secretion-, achlorhydria or pernicious anemia.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
- Early diagnosis of the stomach cancer is very difficult. Stomach cancer usually follows a silent course in early stages and therefore, it would have been, unfortunately, spread to other body regions, when the diagnosis is made. Even when the condition turns into symptomatic state, it is not strongly manifested that symptoms may easily be ignored by the patient.
Symptoms of stomach cancer are as follows:
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Abdominal discomfort or pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Tenderness, gastric distension (feeling bloated) and abdominal distension after meal
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Bleeding (blood in vomit or stool)
Diagnostic Methods for the Stomach Cancer
One or more than one of following methods can be used to diagnose the condition
- Fecal occult blood
- Upper GI imaging
- Treatment Methods for the Stomach Cancer
Surgical treatment: This method is most commonly used to treat the stomach cancer. Surgical method is referred as gastrectomy that implies partial or complete removal of the stomach. Other tissues nearby the stomach can also be operatively removed.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy kills cancer cells based on effects of medications. Since medications are administered to blood circulation, chemotherapy is a systemic treatment method.
Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells and to prevent proliferation thereof. Similar to the surgery, radiotherapy is a regional treatment method and radiation beams influence cancer cells only at the target. Radiotherapy is, sometimes, started after the surgery to kill cancer cells that may be left around the surgery site.
Biotherapy: Biotherapy (immunotherapy) is a treatment method that helps immune system of the body to attack and destroy cancer cells. This treatment method is also useful to manage side effects of anti-cancer therapy.