What is Stomach Cancer: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

What is Stomach cancer?

Gastric cancer is a disease that occurs due to the uncontrolled growth of cells in the stomach. Tumors can originate in any of the layers of this organ: mucous, muscular or serous.

According to the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), the most frequent type is adenocarcinoma , a tumor that originates in the glands and accounts for 95 percent of stomach cancer diagnoses.

The sarcoma s , melanomas and lymphomas do not usually occur in this area of the body.

What Causes of Stomach cancer?

Causes of Stomach cancer

As with other cancers, such as brain tumors or osteosarcoma. The exact causes of gastric cancer are unknown.

However, some of the risk factors that favor the appearance of cancer are known:

Nutritional factors : Following a diet very rich in salted and smoked products, frequent in Japan and China. Low in fresh fruits and vegetables, or with high concentrations of nitrates in food can increase the risk of gastric cancer.

Environmental factors: Preparing food badly, lack of refrigeration or bad water, also increase the chances of this pathology appearing.

Consume tobacco .

Some diseases: There are certain pathologies and circumstances that increase the risk of developing this cancer. People who have previously had gastric surgery could develop it if it has been between 10 and 15 years since the patient underwent surgery.

Chronic atrophic gastritis can degenerate into cancer; pernicious anemia, gastric polyps, or H. pylori infection . However, although H. pylori infection increases the risk, most infected patients will not develop cancer.

Genetic factors: Under rare circumstances, cancer may be linked to genetic factors. For example, in inherited diffuse gastric cancer syndrome, several family members will have stomach cancer.

Family factors: A patient with several family members with gastric cancer has between 2 and 3 times more risk of suffering it.

What are the Symptoms of Stomach cancer?

In most cases, gastric cancer remains asymptomatic until the patient is in an advanced stage of the disease.

The main symptoms that the patient refers to the doctor are usually vague and nonspecific and coincide with symptoms of other pathologies such as a gastric ulcer. The most frequent manifestations are loss of weight and appetite , abdominal pain, changes in the intestinal rhythm or hemorrhages that can lead to anemia. Also, some patients may also have occurs nausea and vomiting , feeling full after eating very little, tiredness

During the physical examination, the doctor may notice symptoms such as palpable nodules, masses, filling of the abdomen or the increase in the size of any organ, among others.

How to Prevent Stomach cancer?

To date, there is insufficient scientific evidence to recommend endoscopic screening in the healthy population of western countries, where gastric cancer is not very frequent. Among the strategies to prevent stomach cancer from occurring, SEOM insists on the importance of:

  • Consume large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, pillars of the Mediterranean diet , and reduce salted and smoked foods.
  • Correctly preserve food.
  • Do not smoke .
  • Avoiding obesity.
  • Maintaining a normal body weight.
  • Practicing physical exercise lowers the risk of cancer.

“A diet rich in fruit and green can help prevent stomach cancer.”

How Is Stomach cancer Diagnosed?

In some countries where stomach cancer is very common, such as Japan. Tests (gastroscopy) are carried out to get an early diagnosis. However, in western countries, examinations that are routinely performed on asymptomatic. People have not been shown to increase gastric cancer survival.

The first step that patients must take to diagnose. This pathology is to carry out a medical history accompanied for a physical examination, an analytical examination, radiological tests, and, in most cases, a gastroscopy.

Blood test

The tests are important. They will provide information on whether the patient has anemia. It can guide the specialist on the status of the function of some organs, mainly the liver and kidney.

On the other hand, tumor markers will appear in the results. This result shows that point to the existence of cancer. Although in some cases the markers may be high for non-tumor causes.

Upper digestive endoscopy

In this test, the doctor introduces the gastroscope through the mouth. A device that has a light at the end, and that allows you to visualize the inside of the digestive system. The gastroscope has a clamp at the inner.

Radiological examinations

Radiological tests provide more information about cancer, such as its extent. The most used are:

  • Chest x-ray: It can be replaced by a thoracic scanner.
  • X-ray of the abdomen: Provides information on whether there are blockages of the stomach or intestine.
  • Esophagus-gastro-duodenal study: A doctor will administer a barium contrast in the form of porridge. It will perform an x-ray. With this test, you can detect injuries. If a gastroscopy has been performed. This study is not necessary.
  • Abdominal or abdominal pelvic ultrasound.
  • Chest scanner.
  • Abdominal-pelvic CT: It offers a lot of information about stomach cancer: extension, existence or not of metastases in the liver, etc.
  • Abdominal resonance.

There are other complementary tests that the specialist may request to complete the diagnosis: endoscopic ultrasound, positron emission tomography (PET), bone scintigraphy, or laparoscopy.

How to Treat Stomach cancer?

According to SEOM, the choice of the appropriate therapy depends on different factors such as

  • age, the general condition of the patient,
  • nutritional situation,
  • the existence of other important pathologies, such as heart disease.

Also, clinicians should consider the circumstances of the tumor: area of the stomach where the cancer is located, stage of the disease, and the type of tumor, as well as the efficacy of the treatment.

In most cases, treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach in which professionals from different specialties participate.

“The three fundamental therapies are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. In some patients, treatment will consist only of manifestations such as pain.”

Although it depends on the patient. The protocol that is usually followed. Firstly, to remove the primary tumor if there are no distant metastases. Depending on the extent of the tumor. The specialist will administer complimentary chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy.

In circumstances where there is metastasis, the treatment of choice is chemotherapy. Depending on the patient, the oncologist will also include treatment with radiotherapy and / or surgery.