Stomach cancer is also referred to as gastric cancer. This cancerous tumor growth occurs in the lining of the stomach. Some of the initial symptoms of this disease include heartburn. Nausea, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain, especially in the upper part. In addition, other signs and symptoms of gastric cancer include loss of weight, jaundice, difficulty in swallowing food, vomiting, hematochezia. The stomach cancer has the tendency to undergo metastasis. This basically means that they’re capable of spreading from one part of the body to other parts of the body. For example, cancer might spread from the stomach to other parts such as the liver, ovaries, bones, lungs, and the lymph nodes. The most prevalent cause of this malignant tumor growth is the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. This microorganism is responsible for about 60% of all gastric cancer cases. In addition, there are factors that increase the chances of having this disease. Examples of these factors include smoking, alcohol, obesity, and some types of food. Also, heredity also plays a part in the development of a malignant tumor. Children can inherit gastric cancer from affected parents. People who have relatives that are affected by this disease have a high chance of also developing the disease. This disease can be diagnosed by doing a biopsy, which is done during an endoscopy. An imaging test could also be done, to detect and check if it has spread to other parts of the body. As with all diseases, the earlier this disease is diagnosed, the better the diagnosis. Many variants of the disease can be cured. The most common treatment procedure done include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and some targeted therapy. Scientists in stem cell wholesale, and in stem cell research are working on ways to target and isolate cancer stem cells, to create a permanent cure for this disease.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gastric Cancer?
This malignant tumor is mostly asymptomatic in the initial stages, however, symptoms would begin to show as the disease progresses. By the time symptoms starts showing, cancer would have reached or near the advanced stage. Some of the early symptoms of this disease include
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal discomfort
- Feeling bloated, especially after eating a meal
As the disease progresses, patients might present with the following signs and symptoms
- Stomach pain
- Loss of weight
- Yellowing of the eyes and the skin
What Are The Causes Of Gastric Cancer?
Gastric cancer occurs due to many factors. Studies have shown that this disease is more predominant in men than in women. This might be connected to the estrogen in women. There have been theories that estrogen protects women from the growth of this kind of a tumor. Below are some of the factors that could increase the development of gastric cancer;
- 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, a 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 Stomach Cancer Diagnosed?
The physician would first perform a physical examination of the patient. He’d then proceed to ask about the medical history of the patient, and the presenting symptoms, as well as the patient’s family history. He might then order for some tests to check for the presence of cancer cells. Below are some of the tests he might order for;
- Blood test: This is done to see if there are any cancer cells in the blood.
- Endoscopy: The typical endoscopy done for stomach cancer is upper endoscopy. This is because the upper endoscopy would show in details the developments and growth in the stomach. This is done by passing a tube that has a camera in it, into the mouth, down through the esophagus, into the stomach. There would be a screen that’d be showing in real time what the stomach looks like, and if there is any kind of growth or a tumor
- 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.
- CT scan: The CT scan shows the gastrointestinal system vividly. The pictures are usually vivid.
- Biopsy: This is the definitive test. The doctor takes a sample of the stomach. This sample is then checked under the microscope for any cancer growth.
How Is Gastric Cancer Currently Treated?
There are many treatment procedures used for stomach cancer. This includes surgery, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy. The kind of treatment depends on some factors, such as the size of a tumor, how far it has spread, affected organs and so on.
- Surgery: The surgeon might have to remove a part of the stomach, and tissues that are affected by cancer. In severe cases, the doctor might have to remove the entire stomach.
- Chemotherapy: This is the process whereby drugs are used to kill the cancer cells. This procedure usually takes weeks before it’s completed.
- Radiotherapy: This is the use of high-intensity radiations to kill tumors.
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.
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