Stomach cancer is a disease that is characterized by the growth of cancer cells in the inner lining of the stomach. This disease is difficult to diagnose, and this is because people affected by it don’t show signs and symptoms in the initial stages. Gastric cancer rarely occurs, as compared to other types of cancer, which is why it’s underdiagnosed. In cases where patients present with symptoms, some of the early manifestations include abdominal pain, problems in swallowing food, jaundice, loss of weight, yellowing of the sclera of the eyes, hematochezia and so on. This disease also can spread from its origin, in the liver, to other parts of the body such as bones, liver, lungs, lymph nodes and so on. One of the most prevalent causes of this disease is an infection, especially by Helicobacter pylori. According to statistics, this is responsible for over 60% of gastric cancer cases. Other factors that could increase the risk of developing this disease include smoking, obesity and so on. Heredity is also an important factor. Gastric cancer develops in stages over time. It can be diagnosed by a physician through biopsy. Medical imaging is also another way of diagnosing the disease. Gastric cancer cannot be cured, but treatments can be given to support the patient, and increase the survival rate. Some of the treatment plans used for this disease include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, surgery and stem cell therapy. Stem cells and exosomes are potential ways of treating this disease. Scientists are working on ways to isolate and target cancer stem cells responsible for the growth of stomach cancer. This cancer stem cells are responsible for the uncontrolled proliferation of the tumor tissues.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gastric Cancer?
There are usually no signs and symptoms of gastric cancer in the early stages. This is because the disease is rare and underdiagnosed. Patients don’t display any symptom until the advanced and late stages. Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of the disease;
- Regular heartburn or acid reflux.
- Loss of appetite
- Bloating of the abdomen
- Abdominal pain
What Are The Causes Of Gastric Cancer?
The main cause of gastric cancer is not known yet. However, there are some factors that could increase the risk of developing the disease. Below are some of these factors;
- Infections: Helicobacter pylori is one of the most common causes of gastric cancer. According to statistics, these bacteria play an important role in up to 80% of gastric cancer cases. Other microorganisms that could cause this disease include the Ebstein-Barr virus.
- Smoking: Smoking contains a lot of carcinogens. According to studies, the cigarette has over 64 carcinogens. This can be attributed to why it increases the risk of developing cancer. Cancer that occurs as a result of smoking mostly affect the upper part of the stomach and the esophagus. Excessive consumption of alcohol also plays a role in the growth of malignant tumor of the stomach.
- Diet: Although, there are no enough proves that there is a connection between gastric cancer and diet. However, it has been noticed that some foods are associated with an increased risk of having stomach cancer. Examples of this diet include smoked foods, some pickled vegetables, processed meat and so on.
- Genetics: Scientists have come up with the idea that genetic mutations might be responsible for stomach cancer. Although the mechanism of this isn’t clear yet.
- Other causes: Other conditions and factors that are associated with gastric cancer include diabetes mellitus, pernicious anemia, intestinal metaplasia and so on.
How Is Gastric Cancer Diagnosed?
Physicians don’t usually carry out routine screening for gastric cancer. This is because the disease is rare. However, people who have higher risks of developing the disease should regularly go for medical check-ups. There are some tests that are done, which would indicate the likelihood of developing the disease. The first thing the doctor does is a physical examination. A detailed medical and family history of the patient would also be taken. Below are some of the tests a physician would carry out to test for this disease;
- Blood tests: This is done to check for any signs of cancer in the blood.
- Endoscopy: An upper endoscopy is also done to check the stomach. This is done by passing a flexible tube with a camera into the mouth, down the throat to view the stomach. This is one of the most effective ways of investigating stomach cancer.
- CT scan: This is known as the computer tomography test. It’s a medical imaging test that shows a vivid picture of the inside of the body.
- Biopsy: This is the process by which a little piece of the stomach tissue is extracted, and examined under a microscope. The tissue is evaluated for the presence of cancer cells. A biopsy is usually done during an endoscopy.
- Barium test: The patient is made to drink a liquid substance that contains barium. The liquid coats the stomach, and shows more vividly on X-ray.
How Can Gastric Cancer Be Prevented?
- Eating healthy: A lot of the food people consume increases the risk of developing cancer. Processed food, junks, increases the risk of developing this disease. On the other hand, healthy food such as fruits and vegetables, fibers significantly reduces the risk of developing the disease.
- Smoking: Smoking is one of the most important factors that could lead to gastric cancer. Cigarette contains over 64 carcinogenic chemicals. Avoiding smoking would go a long way in preventing gastric cancer.
- Stomach infections: People with Helicobacter infection that is untreated have a higher risk of developing gastric cancer. It’s important to get treatment to reduce the risk of developing this disease.
Stem Cell Therapy And Stomach Cancer
Scientists are working on ways to isolate and target cancer stem cells responsible for the growth of stomach cancer. This cancer stem cells are responsible for the uncontrolled proliferation of the tumor tissues. This would eventually lead to the development of drugs that would eliminate the cancer stem cells, which would cure the disease.
Case Report: A 69 – Year – Old Women with Stomach Cancer. (2017). International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), 6(1), pp.1130-1131.
Kamble, S. and Bapat, S. (2013). Stem cell and cancer stem cell games on the ECM field. Journal of Cancer Stem Cell Research, 1(1), p.1.
Lunet, N., Carvalho, R. and Barros, H. (2004). An appraisal of gastric cancer research in cancer journals. Gastric Cancer, 7(3).
Torpy, J. (2004). Stomach Cancer. JAMA, 291(2), p.266.Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL