NATIONAL STOMACH CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer is the condition when cancer cells grow out of control in the stomach. Cancer may form anywhere in the stomach. Mostly, stomach cancer develops at the junction of the stomach and esophagus (where the stomach and esophagus meets).1
Cancer begins in the stomach lining around 95% of the time and develops gradually. If left untreated, it can develop a tumor and penetrate the stomach walls further. The pancreas and liver, two adjacent organs, could become infected with the tumor. It is more difficult to treat stomach cancer that penetrates the stomach wall or spreads to other organs.2
There are major types of stomach cancer:2
- Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma stomach cancer starts in cells that produce mucous. This is the most common type of stomach cancer.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST): Start in special nerve cells that are found in the wall of the stomach and other digestive organs.
- Carcinoid tumors: Cancers that start in the neuroendocrine cells.
- Lymphoma: It is a cancer that starts in immune system cells. Lymphoma sometimes starts in the stomach if the body sends immune system cells to the stomach.
Gastric cancer is the 4th leading cancer in the world and the 2nd most common cause of death due to malignancy3
Stomach cancer symptoms and signs: 2
Stomach cancer does not occur symptoms during the early stages. Even the most common early signs of stomach cancer don’t usually show up until the cancer is more advanced. Following are the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer:
- Loss of appetite.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Fatigue or weakness.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Heartburn and indigestion.
- Black stool or vomiting blood.
- Feeling bloated or gassy after eating.
- Stomach pain, often above your belly button.
- Feeling full even after eating a small meal or snack.
Risk factors for Stomach cancer:4
- Age: People over 55 years old are more likely to develop stomach cancer.
- Gender: Men are twice as likely as women to have stomach cancer.
- Bacterial infection: A common bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, also called H. pylori causes stomach inflammation and ulcers. Additionally, it is recognized as one of the primary causes of stomach cancer.
- Family history/genetics: Individuals are at an increased risk of developing stomach cancer if a parent, child, or sibling has had the disease.
- Race/ethnicity: Stomach cancer is more common in Black, Hispanic, and Asian people than in White people.
- Diet: Regularly eating foods high in salt or proceeded food is associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer.
- Previous surgery or health conditions: People who have undergone stomach surgery, and have pernicious anemia, or achlorhydria are at an increased risk of developing stomach cancer.
- Occupational exposure: Exposure to certain dust and fumes may increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.
- Tobacco and alcohol: Both tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption may raise the risk of stomach cancer.
- Obesity: Studies have indicated that being overweight raises a man’s risk of stomach cancer.
If stomach cancer progresses to advanced stages, then it may lead to many complications:
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Gastric perforation
- Small Bowel Obstruction
Doctors believe that changes in our diets over the past few decades are substantially responsible for the continuous drop in stomach cancer cases.
- Food preservation: At present, people preserve food through refrigeration instead of salting, smoking, or pickling.
- Healthy diet: Consumption of foods with plenty of fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C might also decrease the risk of stomach cancer.
- Quitting smoking: It is the probably best solution one can make for their health. It reduces the possibility of several medical problems and even the risk of cancers including stomach, lung, esophagus, head, neck, etc.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables: Try to include fruits and vegetables in your diet each day. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Reduce the number of salty and proceeded foods: Avoid eating smoked and pickled foods and salted meats and fish.
- Regular health check-ups: People with a strong family history of stomach cancer might have stomach cancer screening. Screening tests can detect stomach cancer before it causes symptoms.
Treatment for Stomach cancer:2
Treatment options for stomach cancer depend on cancer’s location within the stomach and its stage. Some treatments for stomach cancer are as follows:
Surgery: The goal of surgery for stomach cancer is to remove all of cancer. For small stomach cancers, surgery might be the first treatment.
- Removing small cancers from the stomach lining. (upper endoscopy)
- Removing all or part of the stomach (gastrectomy)
- Removing lymph nodes to look for ca
- Surgery to relieve symptoms
Chemotherapy: It is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy travels through your whole body.
- Chemotherapy only goes in the belly.
Radiation therapy: In uses high-powered beams of energy to kill cancer cells. The beams can come from X-rays, protons, or other sources.
Targeted therapy: Targeted treatments use medicines that attack specific chemicals present within cancer cells
Immunotherapy: It is a treatment with a medicine that helps your body’s immune system to kill cancer cells.
Palliative care: It is a special type of health care that helps you feel better when you have a serious illness. If you have cancer, palliative care can help relieve pain and other symptoms.
November serves an essential purpose of awareness about stomach cancer. During the awareness month, a lot of attention is paid to food, nourishment, and healthcare.It can be challenging for people dealing with stomach cancer, especially for those living without a stomach. The goals of stomach cancer awareness are to raise awareness and support efforts to educate people about stomach cancer, including risk factors, prevention, and early detection. It inspires people and interested groups and organizations to observe and support stomach cancer patients and to promote public awareness of potential stomach cancer treatment through appropriate programs and activities.7
- Stomach cancer. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15812-stomach-cancer. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Stomach cancer. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stomach-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352438. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- CONSENSUS DOCUMENT FOR MANAGEMENT OF GASTRIC CANCER. Available at: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://main.icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/guidelines/Gastric%20Cancer%20Final%20pdf%20for%20farrow_0.pdf. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Stomach Cancer: Risk Factors. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/stomach-cancer/risk-factors. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Stomach Cancer: Symptoms, Complications, and Treatment. Available at: https://www.practo.com/health-wiki/stomach-cancer-symptoms-complications-and-treatment/241/article#. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Stomach Cancer Prevention, available at: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/cancer/stomach-cancer/stomach-cancer-treatment.html, Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. Available at: https://nostomachforcancer.org/get-involved/stomach-cancer-awareness-month/. Assessed on 18th October 2022.