Stomach or gastric cancer is
a malignant tumor or abnormal growth in the lining of the stomach.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
The symptoms of stomach cancer are:
- Chronic indigestion
- Pain while eating
- Blood in stool
- Black, tar-like stool
- Vomiting, may also vomit blood
- Loss of appetite
- Halitosis or bad breath
- Malnourishment or weight loss
- Excessive gas or flatulence
- Difficulty swallowing
- The feeling of fullness even after eating only a little amount
Many patients subsequently diagnosed with stomach cancer are
asymptomatic (have no symptoms at all).
Diagnosis of Gastric Cancer
Your doctor would perform the following tests to diagnose stomach
- Stool sample
Blood in stool is a sign of stomach cancer.
- Gastrointestinal (GI) Endoscopy
A flexible tube with camera and light attached called an endoscope
is inserted carefully into the digestive tract to see ulcers
or lesions in the stomach lining. A tissue sample or biopsy
is taken to see if the ulcer is cancerous or if it’s just
a peptic ulcer.
- Barium X-Ray
The patient is given a solution of barium before an
X-ray is taken. Large tumors would show up as shadows in this
- Blood test
A blood test positive for anemia or low amount of red blood
cells is indicative (but not a conclusive) sign of stomach cancer.
- Computed Tomography or CT Scan
A CT scan may be ordered if cancer is found, to see if it has
Causes of Stomach Cancer
The following factors seem to increase the risk of developing
- Certain digestive disorders
Left untreated, the following diseases can lead to stomach cancer:
- Gastritis or inflammation of the stomach
- Pernicious anemia, a chronic condition
caused by the body’s inability to absorb vitamin
- Polyps and ulcers in
- Infection of the bacteria Heliobacter pylori
- Previous injury to the stomach lining
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Eating smoked, pickled, salted food, especially those with
high nitrates content
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Previous stomach surgery
Who Gets It?
Approximately 23,000 new stomach cancer cases are diagnosed every
year in the United States. This condition is roughly twice more
commonly found in African American, Hispanic, and Native American
population than in Caucasians and affects more men than women.
In the United States, the incidence of stomach cancer has been
steadily declining over the past several decades, from 30 per
100,000 individuals in the 1930s to 8 per 100,000 individuals
in the 1980s. It is thought that refrigeration and decreased use
of salting and smoking as methods of food preservation contributed
to this decline.
The incidence of stomach cancer is particularly high in Japan,
China, Korea, Chile, and Ireland for some unknown environmental
Treatment for Stomach Cancer?
Surgery is required to eliminate stomach cancer. Here, a technique
called gastrectomy or the removal of parts or
all of the stomach is performed. In a new procedure called neoadjuvant
chemotherapy, chemical agents that destroy cancer tissue
is given at the time of surgery and may help improve the cure
rate for stomach cancer.
Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of
the body require radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
If caught early, stomach cancer has a very good cure rate of
90%. However, once the cancer has metastasized or spread, the
5-year survival rate is less than 20%.