- Stomach cancer is a condition where cancer cells have formed in the stomach’s inner lining.
- While the exact cause of stomach cancer is still unknown, certain factors can increase your risk for the disease, including your weight, medical condition, blood type, and diet.
- Treatments for stomach cancer usually include surgery, chemotherapy, and chemoradiation.
Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, occurs when cancer cells form in your stomach’s inner lining. The disease can progress slowly over the years as the cells into a tumor.
It is still unknown what causes cancer cells to grow in the stomach, but scientists warn against a few things that may increase your risk for the disease:
- the H.pylori bacteria, which also causes ulcers
- pernicious anemia
- excess weight
- excessive consumption of smoked, pickled, or salty foods
- stomach surgery for an ulcer
- having type A blood
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- Certain genes
- working in coal, metal, timber, or rubber industries
- exposure to asbestos
The early signs of stomach cancer include frequent indigestion or heartburn, slight nausea, and appetite loss. However, as the tumor grows, it may cause more severe symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in your stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Stomach swelling
- Changes in bowel movement
If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms or at high risk for the disease, a doctor can help diagnose your condition by recommending you to undergo any or all of the following procedures:
- Physical exam
- Interview for family medical history
- Blood tests
- Upper endoscopy
- Upper GI series test
- CT scan
The treatment for stomach cancer will depend on how long you’ve had the disease or how much it has spread in your body, called your cancer stage:
Stage 0. Your stomach lining has a group of cells that may turn into cancer. Your doctor may perform surgery to remove part or all of your stomach and nearby lymph nodes.
Stage I. The cancer cells have developed into a tumor and may have spread into your lymph nodes. Surgery, chemotherapy, or chemoradiation are usually used to treat this stage.
Stage II. Cancer has spread deeper into the stomach and maybe into nearby lymph nodes. Surgery is still the primary treatment, but you may also be advised to undergo chemo or chemoradiation.
Stage III. Cancer has spread in all the stomach layers and other organs close to it, like the spleen or colon, or it may have reached deeper into your lymph nodes.
The treatment will include surgery along with chemo or chemoradiation, depending on what your body can handle.
Stage IV. At this point, cancer has spread far and wide to your other organs, so the disease is much harder to cure. To provide you relief from the symptoms, your doctor may suggest the following procedures:
- Destroying part of the tumor with a laser on an endoscope
- Inserting a thin metal tube called a stent between your stomach and esophagus or between your stomach and small intestine to keep things flowing.
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Removing part of your stomach.
- Chemo and/or chemoradiation
- Treat stomach infections with doctor-prescribed antibiotics.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid very salty, pickled, cured, or smoked foods.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking
- Limit taking aspirin or other NSAIDs.