Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the stomach. It can cause symptoms such as indigestion, pain, weight loss, and bleeding. However, these symptoms are often ignored or mistaken for other conditions, such as a hiatal hernia or peptic ulcer. This can delay the diagnosis and treatment of stomach cancer, which can affect the chances of survival.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stomach cancer is more common in other parts of the world than in the United States. It is also more likely to affect older people and men. Some factors that can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer include smoking, family history, infection with a bacterium called H. pylori, long-term stomach inflammation, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and stomach polyps.
The best way to prevent stomach cancer is to avoid or reduce the exposure to these risk factors. For example, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, limiting alcohol intake, and treating H. pylori infection can lower the risk of stomach cancer. Additionally, some people may benefit from screening tests that can detect stomach cancer early, especially if they have a strong family history or genetic syndrome that predisposes them to stomach cancer.
If stomach cancer is suspected or diagnosed, there are several tests and procedures that can help confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage of the cancer. These include upper endoscopy, biopsy, blood tests, ultrasound, and imaging tests such as CT and PET scans. The stage of the cancer indicates how advanced it is and how far it has spread. This information is important for planning the treatment and estimating the prognosis.
The treatment options for stomach cancer depend on the location and stage of the cancer, as well as the overall health and preferences of the patient. The main treatment for stomach cancer is surgery to remove the tumor and some surrounding tissue. Sometimes, the entire stomach or part of it may need to be removed. Other treatments that may be used before or after surgery include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and palliative care. These treatments aim to kill or shrink the cancer cells, prevent them from spreading, or relieve the symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Stomach cancer can be a serious and life-threatening condition if not detected and treated early. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer and seek medical attention if they persist or worsen. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of survival and recovery.