Introduction: Stomach cancer is the 4th most common cancer worldwide with 930,000 persons diagnosed with it in 2002. Gastric cancer mostly affects older people – two-thirds of people who have it are age 65 or over. It is more readily treated when diagnosed early.
SYMPTOMS: Stomach cancer is often asymptomatic or causes only nonspecific symptoms in its early stages. By the time symptoms occur, the cancer has generally metastasized to other parts of the body, which is one of the main reasons for its poor prognosis. Stomach cancer can cause the following signs and symptoms: Loss of appetite, Difficulty swallowing, particularly difficulty that increases over time, Vague abdominal fullness, Nausea and vomiting, Vomiting blood, Abdominal pain, Excessive belching, Breath odor, Excessive gas, Unintentional weight loss, A general decline in health, Premature abdominal fullness after meals.
These can be symptoms of other problems such as a stomach virus, gastric ulcer or tropical sprue and diagnosis should be done by a gastroenterologist or an oncologist. To find the cause of symptoms, the doctor asks about the patient’s medical history, does a physical exam, and may order laboratory studies. Unfortunately, because early stomach cancer causes few symptoms, the disease is usually advanced when the diagnosis is made.
RISK: It is believed that a number of risk factors are involved including diet, gastritis, intestinal metaplasia and Helicobacter pylori infection. You can decrease your risk of stomach cancer by making some changes in your lifestyle. Your risk of getting it is greater if you have had a Helicobacter pylori infection, Have had gastric inflammation, Are a man who eats lots of salted, smoked, or pickled foods, A cigarette smoker or have a family history of stomach cancer. Helicobacter pylori is the primary risk factor in about 80% or more of stomach cancers.
TREATMENT: As is usual with any cancer, treatment is adapted to fit individual needs and depends on the size, position, and extent of the cancer, the stage of the disease, and the person’s general health.
The kind of treatment you receive for stomach cancer depends on a number of factors, including the location of the cancer, how advanced it is, your overall health and your own preferences. The goal of any treatment is always to eliminate the cancer completely.
CONCLUSION: Stomach cancer causes close to one million deaths worldwide annually. It often affects nearby organs and lymph nodes. A gastric tumor can grow through the stomach’s outer layer into other neighboring organs, such as the pancreas, esophagus, or intestine. Metastasis occurs in 80-90% of individuals with gastric cancer, with a five year survival rate of 75% in those diagnosed in early stages and fewer than 30 percent of those diagnosed in late stages.
Because stomach cancer can spread to the liver, the pancreas, and other organs near the stomach as well as to the lungs, the doctor may order a CT scan, a PET scan, an endoscopic ultrasound exam, or other tests to check these areas. The use of chemotherapy to treat stomach cancer has no established standard of care. Although the incidence of stomach cancer has declined dramatically in the United States and Western Europe in the last 60 years, the disease remains a serious problem in much of the rest of the world, where it’s a leading cause of cancer death.