What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer occurs when cancer cells grow within the lining of the stomach. This type of cancer is called gastric cancer and is difficult to diagnose because most people do not have symptoms in the early stages. As a result, it is not diagnosed until it has spread to other parts of the body.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there will be 27,000 new cases of stomach cancer in 2021. In addition, the NCI estimates that stomach cancer accounts for 1.4 percent of new cancer cases in the United States.
Stomach cancer can be difficult to diagnose and treat, but it’s important to gain the knowledge you need to manage the disease.
What causes stomach cancer?
Your stomach (along with your esophagus) is just one part of your upper digestive tract. Your stomach is responsible for digesting food and then moving the nutrients to the rest of the digestive system, such as the small and large intestines.
Stomach cancer is when normal, healthy cells in the upper digestive system become cancerous and get out of control, forming a tumor. This process is generally slow. Stomach cancer usually develops over many years.
Stomach cancer risk factors
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing cancerous cells in your stomach. These risk factors include certain diseases and conditions, such as:
H. pylori infection (a common stomach infection that sometimes causes ulcers)
tumors in other parts of the digestive system
gastric polyps (abnormal growths of tissue on the lining of the stomach)
Hereditary syndromes such as Lynch syndrome and Li-Fraumeni syndrome
Stomach cancer is more common among people who:
the elderly, usually people aged 60 and over
people who smoke
overweight or obese people
people with a family history of the disease
People of Asian (especially Korean or Japanese), South American, and Eastern European descent
Your personal medical history can affect your risk of stomach cancer, but some lifestyle factors also play a role. Stomach cancer is more likely if you:
Eat lots of salty or processed foods
eat meat regularly
rarely or never eat fruit
drinking a lot of alcohol (at least three drinks a day)
not getting enough exercise
Do not store or cook food properly
If you think you’re at risk for stomach cancer, you may want to be screened. Screening tests are performed when people are at risk for certain diseases but do not have symptoms.
Symptoms of stomach cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, there are usually no early signs or symptoms of stomach cancer. This means that people don’t know anything is wrong until the cancer is in an advanced stage.
In some cases, there may be symptoms of the disease. Some of the most common symptoms of stomach cancer include:
loss of appetite
Indigestion, frequent flatulence
early satiety (feeling full after eating a small amount)
persistent abdominal pain
Many of these symptoms are common to other conditions, such as ulcers and infections. This makes it difficult to diagnose stomach cancer. If you have symptoms of stomach cancer that do not go away, it is important to see your doctor.
When cancer spreads, this process is called metastasis. Symptoms of advanced or metastatic stomach cancer include:
nausea and vomiting
a lump in the upper part of the stomach
Jaundice (if the cancer has spread to the liver)
weight loss for no apparent reason
Stomach cancer symptoms in women are similar to those in men, but the disease is more common in men. Children may experience constipation or diarrhea, but the symptoms are similar to those of adults.
How is it diagnosed?
People with stomach cancer often have no symptoms in the early stages, so the disease is not diagnosed until it is advanced.
Diagnosing stomach cancer involves a physical exam to check for any abnormalities. Your doctor may use an anemia blood test to check for blood in your stool to look for possible stomach bleeding.
Leave a Comment