Introduction to Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancers are fairly uncommon with 7,000 people a year diagnosed.
What is Stomach Cancer?
Stomach cancers are fairly uncommon with 7,000 people a year diagnosed. The most common type is an adenocarcinoma which starts in the glandular tissue of the stomach. There are other rarer types include lymphomas in the lymphatic tissue of the stomach and gastrointestinal stroll tumours in the muscle of the stomach wall. Men aged over 55 are more at risk of developing stomach cancer than women or those under 55 years. Those who smoke or eat a lot of red meat also have a higher risk of developing stomach caner. A bacterial infection caused by Helicobacter pylori can also increase your risk of stomach cancer.
What are the causes for Stomach Cancer?
Stomach cancer is caused by a change in the cells of the stomach but there is no known cause for these changes. Having said this, there are factors which can increase your risk such as: aged over 55, male, smoker, helicobacter pylori infection, diet rich in red meats or previous cancer diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of Stomach Cancer?
Initial symptoms are common to other less serious gastric conditions and so easily missed. They include: indigestion and heart burn, trapped wind, with frequent burping, bloated feeling after meals, persistent stomach pain.
If the cancer has advanced, your stool can appear black, you can have a loss of appetite or weight loss.
How is Stomach Cancer treated?
The main treatments for cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Surgery is mainly used if the cancer is diagnosed early and might be in combination with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. If the cancer is diagnosed later, chemotherapy or radiotherapy are more likely to be used instead of surgery. The aim of treatment is to remove the tumour and any other cancerous cells but if this is not possible then doctors will try and prevent the cancer from getting bigger or spreading. If this cannot be achieved, treatment will aim to relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Surgery can sometimes be carried out via an endoscope if the cancer is diagnosed early enough. If the cancer has spread further, surgery will remove cancer blocking your stomach. Surgery will involve a two week stay in hospital and time at home to recover. Depending on how far the cancer has spread, part or all of the stomach might need to be removed. This is known as a partial or total gastrectomy.
In some instances, a medication Trastuzmab (Herceptin) is used to treat advanced stomach cancer. It works by blocking the HER2 protein to slow the growth of the cancer. However, it can cause heart problems and so is not given to people who have angina, heart valve disease or uncontrolled high blood pressure.