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Understanding Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, is a type of cancer that develops in the lining of the stomach. It is a relatively rare form of cancer, but it can be deadly if not caught and treated early.

In this patient education article, we will cover the following topics:

  • Risk factors for gastric cancer
  • Symptoms of gastric cancer
  • Diagnosis of gastric cancer
  • Treatment options for gastric cancer
  • Prevention of gastric cancer

 

Risk Factors of Gastric Cancer

Several risk factors may increase a person’s risk of developing gastric cancer. These include:

  • Age: The risk of gastric cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in people over the age of 50.
  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop gastric cancer than women.
  • Family history: If you have a family history of gastric cancer, you may be at an increased risk of developing the disease.
  • Diet: A diet high in smoked or salted foods, and low in fruits and vegetables, has been linked to an increased risk of gastric cancer.
  • Smoking: Smoking tobacco is a major risk factor for gastric cancer.
  • Infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori): This bacterium is found in the stomach and can cause inflammation and ulcers. It has been linked to an increased risk of gastric cancer.
  • Other conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as pernicious anaemia and gastric polyps, may increase the risk of gastric cancer.

 

Symptoms of Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer often does not cause symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer grows, symptoms may develop and may include:

  • Indigestion and stomach discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood in the stool

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a healthcare provider for further evaluation. These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it is important to get a proper diagnosis.

 

Diagnosis of Gastric Cancer

If your healthcare provider suspects that you may have gastric cancer, they will order tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include:

 

1) Endoscopy

During this procedure, a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end (an endoscope) is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach. This allows the healthcare provider to look for abnormalities in the stomach lining.

 

2) Biopsy

During an endoscopy, a small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be taken from the stomach lining and examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

 

3) CT scan

A CT scan is a type of X-ray that produces detailed images of the inside of the body. It may be used to help diagnose gastric cancer.

 

Treatment Options for Gastric Cancer

The treatment for gastric cancer will depend on the stage of the cancer (how far it has spread), the location of the cancer, and the overall health of the patient. Treatment options may include:

 

a) Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for gastric cancer. The type of surgery will depend on the location and stage of the cancer. In early-stage gastric cancer, surgery to remove the cancerous tissue may be curative. In more advanced stages, surgery may be used to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible and to alleviate symptoms.

 

b) Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be used before or after surgery to shrink the cancer and increase the chances of a successful surgery. It may also be used to alleviate symptoms in the advanced stages of gastric cancer.

 

c) Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. It may be used before or after surgery to shrink the cancer and increase the chances of a successful surgery. It may also be used to alleviate symptoms in the advanced stages of gastric cancer.

 

d) Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that targets specific abnormalities in cancer cells. It may be used in combination with chemotherapy to treat gastric cancer.

 

e) Clinical trials

Clinical trials are research studies that test new treatments in people. If you have advanced gastric cancer, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial to test new treatments.

 

Prevention of Gastric Cancer

There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing gastric cancer:

  • Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in smoked or salted foods may help reduce the risk of gastric cancer.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking tobacco is a major risk factor for gastric cancer. Quitting smoking can greatly reduce your risk of developing the disease.
  • Get vaccinated: There is a vaccine available that can protect against infection with the bacterium H. pylori, which has been linked to an increased risk of gastric cancer.
  • Get screened: If you are at high risk for gastric cancer (due to age, family history, or other risk factors), your healthcare provider may recommend screening tests to look for the disease at an early stage.

 

Takeaway

Gastric cancer is a relatively rare, but potentially deadly form of cancer. There are several risk factors for the disease, and it often does not cause symptoms in its early stages.

If you experience any symptoms of gastric cancer, see your healthcare provider immediately.

 

Disclaimer Notice

The content on this website, including text, graphics, images, and information, is meant for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. RICHMOND ENDOSCOPY AND GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS PTE. LTD takes no responsibility if the information on this website is used without consulting one of its specialists.

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