The stomach is a J-shaped organ of the digestive system. It is a part of the upper abdomen, divided into 5 regions, the cardia, the fundus, the body, the antrum, and the pylorus.
The stomach holds the food. It contracts and relaxes to blend and break down food. It also produces enzymes and other specialised cells to digest food.
What is stomach cancer?
Stomach or gastric cancer is the fifth most common cancer globally. It is the fourth most common cancer in males and the seventh most common cancer in females.
When cells in the stomach start growing uncontrollably, it is called stomach or gastric cancer. Stomach cancer can occur in any region of the stomach.
Stomach cancer types
The type of stomach cancer is based on the type of cancerous cell where cancer started. Examples of stomach cancer types include the following.
- Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma starts in cells that produce mucus. It is the most common stomach cancer.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST): GIST starts in nerve cells in the stomach and other digestive organs.
- Carcinoid tumours: This type of cancer starts in the neuroendocrine cells.
- Lymphoma: Lymphoma starts in the stomach if the body sends immune system cells to the stomach.
Stomach cancer signs and symptoms
Stomach cancer symptoms might not occur until the cancer is advanced. When they occur, stomach cancer signs and symptoms might include the following:
- Vomiting blood
- Painful swallowing
- Inadequate appetite
- Intense abdominal pain
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Unexplained weight loss
- Tarry (dark, sticky) stool
Stomach cancers that have metastasised generate signs and symptoms specific to where they spread. For instance, when cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, it might create lumps. Cancer that spreads to the liver might cause yellowing of the skin. If cancer spreads within the abdomen, it might cause fluid to fill the abdomen.
Stomach cancer causes
The causes of stomach cancer are not very obvious. However, there are some aspects linked with it.
For instance, a diet rich in salt and processed meat and deficient in vegetables may cause stomach cancer. Likewise, drinking alcohol and smoking might be one of the stomach cancer causes.
Most stomach cancers start when something damages the inside lining of the stomach—for example, having a stomach infection due to Helicobacter pylori, persistent acid reflux, or overgrowth of noncancerous cells. Further, some hereditary conditions can also cause stomach cancer.
Stomach cancer diagnosis
A comprehensive and correct stomach cancer diagnosis is the foremost step in treating it. At the CK Birla Hospital, we use a combination of tools and tests to detect, diagnose and stage stomach cancer.
We gather a patient’s personal and family medical history and ask about symptoms like bloating, pain, and eating problems. If stomach cancer is suspected, we order various lab and imaging tests that might include:
- Highlighted X-rays
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT)
These tests detect stomach cancer and determine the stage of the disease and whether it has metastasised. If we find abnormalities in the tests, the next step may be an endoscopic or biopsy procedure. They help check for abnormalities like tumours, ulcers, obstructions, and inflammation.
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD): A primary test for stomach cancer diagnosis. A thin, lighted tube called an endoscope is inserted into the mouth and passed through the throat, down into the oesophagus, stomach, and small intestine.
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS): This test for stomach cancer diagnosis uses sound waves to identify tumours and lymph nodes to which cancer may have spread.
- Biopsy: In a biopsy, a small sample of cells is taken and examined to determine if the cells are cancerous.
Stomach cancer treatment
Stomach cancer treatment options depend on its location and stage. The treatments might include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and palliative care.
- Stomach cancer surgery: For stomach cancers, surgery might be the first treatment. Surgeries used to treat stomach cancer might include the following.
- Endoscopic mucosal resection: Small cancers growing on the stomach’s inner lining are removed from the inside lining of the stomach.
- Subtotal gastrectomy: If the stomach cancer is located close to the small intestine, the affected part of the stomach and some of the healthy tissue around it are removed.
- Total gastrectomy: If stomach cancer is close to the oesophagus, all of the stomach and some surrounding tissue are removed. The oesophagus is connected to the small intestine to allow food to move through the digestive system.
- Lymph node removal: Removing lymph nodes reduce the potential for cancer to spread.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug therapy to destroy cancer cells. Types of chemotherapy include the following.
- Systemic chemotherapy: The most common type of chemotherapy that travels through the whole body.
- Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC): Chemotherapy that only goes in the stomach. The drugs are warmed to make them more efficacious.
- Radiation therapy: During radiation therapy, high-powered beams of energy are used to destroy cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a treatment with a medicine that helps the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells.
- Palliative care: Palliative care helps patients feel better when they have a serious disease. We provide an extra layer of support during stomach cancer treatment with palliative care.
Stomach cancer prevention
To lower the risk of stomach cancer in our patients, our suggestions include the following:
- Limiting salty and smoked foods.
- Consuming fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene helps prevent stomach cancer.
- Avoiding smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise.
- Screening tests for stomach cancer are essential for prevention. Screening tests can detect cancer before it yields symptoms.
Stomach or gastric cancer is one of the most common and fatal cancers worldwide. It may not always be preventable, but it is treatable if detected early. Different types of stomach cancer treatment plans and services may be helpful.
At the CK Birla Hospital, we provide all gastroenterology subspecialties, the latest technology like HIPEC, 3D Imaging, laparoscopic tools, and excellent facilities for cutting-edge interventional radiological approaches.
Our doctors maintain the highest levels of professionalism, care, and integrity with their patients. To get the best consultation and understanding of stomach or gastric cancer, get an expert opinion at the CK Birla Hospital. Book an appointment with Dr (Prof.) Amit Javed, call (number)