What is stomach cancer?

Also known as gastric cancer, stomach cancer commences when the cancer cells form in the inner lining of the stomach developing into a tumor.

What are the causes of stomach cancer?

Though scientists are unaware of the exact causes of stomach cancer, there are a few contributing factors that can raise the risk for the disease to a great extent including,

•    Presence of infection with a common bacteria, H. pylori, which causes stomach ulcers.

•    Pernicious anemia, a certain type of long-lasting anemia that is caused by the body's inability to absorb Vitamin B12.

•    Menetrier disease, a rare disorder that results in an enormous overgrowth of mucous cells in the mucous membrane lining the stomach. This disease results in huge gastric folds and increases the risk of stomach cancer.

•    Inflammation in the gut called gastritis,

•    Growths in the stomach called polyps

•    Epstein-Barr virus infection

Apart from this, there can be a host of other reasons that can raise the risk of stomach cancer that may include, smoking, obesity, improper diet, exposure to asbestos, to name a few.

What are the Symptoms of stomach cancer?

There is a multitude of symptoms of stomach cancer such as sudden and unexplained weight loss, severe and persistent heartburn, fatigue, debilitating stomach pain, Indigestion and vomiting, appetite loss, and getting a bloated or full feeling after taking small meals. People experiencing such symptoms should consult a healthcare professional without losing time.

What are the types of stomach cancer?

Depending on the type of cells that form the tumor, stomach cancer can have the following mentioned types:

1. Adenocarcinoma, a particular kind of cancer that starts in the glandular cells that line the inside of the stomach and secrete a protective layer of mucus to shield the lining of the stomach from the acidic digestive juices.

2. Lymphoma, cancer that begins in the immune system's cells that are present in the stomach walls.

3. Carcinoid cancer, rare cancer that initiates in hormone-producing cells.

4. Gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST), a cancer that starts in certain specific nervous system cells found in stomach.

How is stomach cancer diagnosed?

The diagnosis of stomach cancer is performed with the help of screening examination such as an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series; endoscopy or gastroscopy wherein a slim, highly flexible tube is made to pass down the throat of the patient in order to allow a clear view of the stomach, esophagus and upper part of the bowel Barium meals and Barium swallows. Since cancer can extend beyond to reach other parts of the body including, liver, pancreas, lungs, etc. , the operating doctor or physician can ask the patient to for a CT scan, PET scan, or an endoscopic ultrasound exam.

In addition, there are some other tests that can help in diagnosing stomach cancer that may include,

•    Fecal occult blood test

•    Biopsy

•    Upper GI series

Can stomach cancer be treated? What are the treatment protocols?

Stomach cancer can be treated on the basis of the size and spread of cancer. Upon the diagnosis, the doctor can suggest the patient with stomach cancer to undergo procedures such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. For patients who are considered as surgically curable, resection technique provides a palliative effect and enhances the benefits involved in chemotherapy.

In case of surgery remains the only treatment of choice, the operating surgeon can perform surgical interventions such as partial and total removal of the stomach to cure stomach cancer.

Along with this, Antiemetics can be used in patients with stomach cancer to keep a check on nausea, a common symptom that increases with cancer's stage.  Further, in the more advanced stomach cancer stages, sedatives and tranquilizers are used to cut down the anxiety in patients. Also, several other types of narcotic drugs are used to control chronic and unmanageable pain caused due to stomach cancer.

Apart from all the aforementioned treatment methods, there are a few cases of advanced stomach cancer wherein, the need for an operation can be case aside; instead,  a laser beam is directed through an endoscope to vaporize most of the tumor and relieve the obstruction.

How much does stomach cancer treatment cost?

The average cost of various types of stomach cancer is certainly high in Western countries such as the US and UK. Needless to say, the cost of the similar treatment procedure is significantly low in India. As a matter of fact, India boasts of some of the most sought-after hospitals with specializes in offering high-end stomach cancer treatments at a fraction of the cost without compromising the quality. For example, the cost of stomach cancer treatments in India ranges between INR 2,10,000 to 3,70,000.

Note: the cost of stomach cancer treatment depends on various factors including,

  • Type of Hospital
  • Nature & type of cancer
  • Cancer's stage,
  • Age of the Patient,
  • The size of the tumor

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Read: Stomach Cancer Survival Rate in India