Stomach cancer develops in the mucous-producing cells present in the inner lining of the stomach. These cells are also known as adenocercinomas. This condition mostly affects older people. Almost two third of people with stomach cancer are 65 or above. It is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the world.
Who is at Risk?
People who eat less or no vegetables, and consume more preservative-added foods or junk foods are at higher risk of developing stomach cancer. Also people in their old age (people of age group 65 and above) are at higher risk of developing this condition. Apart from this, people who are affected by (or those who had history of) certain types of diseases such as achlorhydria, pernicious anemia, and bacterial infections of stomach (Helicobacter pylori) may also develop this condition. People who smoke are also at high risk of developing stomach cancer.
In some cases, it has been observed that this condition can be hereditary.
There are quite a couple of tests used to detect this type of cancer in patients, however, endoscopy is highly trusted one. Blood sample test and biopsy (samples of cells from the inside lining of the stomach are taken) may also be performed in order to find out any abnormalities. In endoscopy, a small robotic tool is used to take pictures of the inside of the stomach to find out any abnormal growth which may cause this condition. Ultrasound scanning can also be used to diagnose stomach cancer. Barium meal (white barium liquid) test can also be performed to diagnose this disease in which once the liquid is consumed by the patient, the patient’s stomach is examined using X-rays. Along with the aforementioned techniques, there are many other screening tests available for diagnosis of stomach cancer such as gastroscopy, biopsy, and microscopy.
It shows very little or almost no symptoms in its early stage. Occasionally, the patient may experience a very light stomach ache. Once the cancer starts growing, the patient may experience severe stomach ache, loss of weight due to loss of appetite, blood in stool, bloating problem (or bloated feeling) after eating anything, and abdominal pain and discomfort. Any type of change in bowel habits, Ascites, jaundice, and nausea are few other symptoms that make life difficult for the patient. With time new techniques are also being invented to confirm the growth of stomach cancer.
Like any other type of cancer, treatment options for this condition also involve chemotherapy, surgery, and medication. In most cases, surgery is performed to remove a part of or the entire stomach. Success of the surgery depends on the stage in which the cancer is detected (which is very low as most of the cases are diagnosed in advanced stage of stomach cancer). At times, the treatment may include a combination of surgery and medication to help eliminate carcinogenic cells from the body after a surgery to remove infected part of the stomach or the entire stomach. Radiotherapy and biological therapy (also known as immunological therapy) are also used to destroy cancerous cells from the patient’s body. Along with the aforementioned treatment methods, there are many other methods and drugs currently under trial.
Most of the treatments specified above show significant side effects on the patient’s health, hence it is very important to follow a proper diet regime and medication in order to cope up with the problems caused by those side effects.
How Should I Minimize My Risk of Stomach Cancer?
1) Quit smoking, as smokers are at the highest risk level of developing any type of cancer.
2) Try to include vegetables and fruits in your daily diet, and avoid junk or processed food.
3) Try to avoid interaction with toxic substances such as chemicals, etc. Take necessary precautions before you handle such things.
4) Exercise regularly in order to stay fit and active.