Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, is a type of cancer that originates in the cells lining the stomach. It is a relatively uncommon cancer, but it can be aggressive and is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. The most common type of gastric cancer is adenocarcinoma, which starts in the cells lining the stomach.
Key Facts about Gastric Cancer:
- Risk Factors:
- Common risk factors for gastric cancer include infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria, chronic inflammation of the stomach (gastritis), a family history of gastric cancer, smoking, certain dietary factors (such as a diet high in salty and smoked foods), and certain genetic conditions (such as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer).
- Gastric cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer progresses, symptoms may include abdominal pain or discomfort, unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing, persistent indigestion or heartburn, vomiting, and blood in the stool.
- Diagnostic tests for gastric cancer may include upper endoscopy (gastroscopy), imaging studies (such as CT scans or MRIs), and a biopsy. During endoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a camera is used to examine the inside of the stomach and collect tissue samples for biopsy.
- Staging helps determine the extent of the cancer and guides treatment decisions. It considers factors such as the size and location of the tumor, whether the cancer has invaded nearby tissues or lymph nodes, and whether it has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body.
- Gastric cancer can be classified into different types, including intestinal-type and diffuse-type adenocarcinomas. The type of gastric cancer may influence the treatment approach.
- Treatment options for gastric cancer depend on the type, stage, and location of the cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient. Common treatment modalities include surgery (partial or total gastrectomy), chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
- The prognosis for gastric cancer varies based on factors such as the stage at diagnosis, type of cancer, and the response to treatment. Early-stage gastric cancer may have a more favorable prognosis, while advanced stages may have a more guarded outlook.
- Preventive measures for gastric cancer include treating and eradicating Helicobacter pylori infection, maintaining a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables, avoiding smoking, and reducing intake of salty and smoked foods.
- Follow-up Care:
- Individuals who have undergone treatment for gastric cancer may require regular follow-up care to monitor for any signs of recurrence and assess overall health. Follow-up care may involve imaging studies, endoscopy, and blood tests.
Gastric cancer is often diagnosed at a more advanced stage, which can impact treatment options and outcomes. Prevention, early detection, and access to timely medical care are essential for improving the prognosis of gastric cancer. Individuals with risk factors or symptoms suggestive of gastric cancer should seek prompt medical evaluation.