Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, is a type of cancer that originates in the cells lining the stomach. The stomach is a digestive organ that plays a crucial role in breaking down food. Gastric cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, and the prognosis can vary depending on factors such as the stage of the cancer, the location within the stomach, and the overall health of the patient.
Key Facts about Gastric Cancer:
- Risk Factors:
- Common risk factors for gastric cancer include infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a history of certain stomach conditions (such as chronic gastritis or intestinal metaplasia), smoking, family history of gastric cancer, older age, and certain dietary factors (including diets high in salt, smoked foods, and low in fruits and vegetables).
- Gastric cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer progresses, symptoms may include persistent indigestion or heartburn, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal pain or discomfort, nausea, vomiting (with blood), and difficulty swallowing.
- Diagnostic tests for gastric cancer may include upper endoscopy (gastroscopy), imaging studies (such as CT scans or PET scans), and biopsy. During an endoscopy, a flexible tube with a camera is used to examine the inside of the stomach, and tissue samples are taken for biopsy.
- Staging helps determine the extent of the cancer and guides treatment decisions. It considers factors such as the size and depth of the tumor, involvement of nearby lymph nodes, and whether the cancer has spread to other organs.
- Gastric cancer can be classified into several types, including adenocarcinoma (the most common type), lymphoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), and carcinoid tumor. Adenocarcinoma arises from the cells lining the stomach.
- 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, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
- The prognosis for gastric cancer varies based on factors such as the stage at diagnosis, the depth of tumor invasion, and the response to treatment. Early-stage gastric cancer has a better prognosis than advanced-stage cancer.
- Preventive measures for gastric cancer include treating and eradicating Helicobacter pylori infection if present, maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, reducing salt intake, avoiding smoking, and seeking prompt medical attention for persistent symptoms.
- 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 a serious condition, and early detection is often challenging. Preventive measures and lifestyle modifications can contribute to reducing the risk of gastric cancer. Individuals with persistent digestive symptoms or risk factors should seek medical evaluation for timely diagnosis and treatment.