- Stomach cancer or gastric cancer is a condition where the abnormal cells build up to form a mass inside a part of the stomach.
- The majority of people who are diagnosed with stomach cancer either have metastasis or eventually develop it.
- Metastasis is a process where cancer spreads from the area in which it first developed.
- Stomach cancer usually develops slowly over many years.
- Cancer formation is preceded by pre-cancerous changes in the inner lining (mucosa) of the stomach. These early modifications rarely cause symptoms and thus often go undetected.
- Cancers starting in different parts of the stomach may cause different symptoms and tend to have different outcomes.
Like any other type of cancer, the Stomach cancer treatment also depends on how long you’ve had the tumor, the extent of its spread and the patient’s overall health.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
There are many symptoms associated with stomach cancer. However, as they also exist in many other less serious conditions, this cancer may be difficult to recognize at first.
This is precisely the reason that diagnosis of stomach cancer is not easy. Most people with stomach cancer are not diagnosed until the disease is already at the last stage.
Early symptoms of stomach cancer may include:
• A sensation of being full during meals
• Swallowing difficulties, known as dysphagia
• Feeling bloated after meals
• Frequent burping
• Indigestion that does not go away
• Stomach ache, or pain in the breastbone
• Trapped wind
• Vomiting, which may contain blood
Treatment of Stomach Cancer
- Surgery, as the primary stomach cancer treatment, gets rid of the tumor and stops cancerous cells from spreading to other parts of your body. The type of surgery you choose depends on how long you’ve had the disease or the location of cancer. The surgeon may surgically remove the whole stomach or only the part that has the cancerous cells.
You and your surgeon can talk about various types of surgery and which one may be right for you:
1. Partial (or subtotal) gastrectomy for tumors:
- This is performed for the lower part of the stomach, the process involves the surgeon to remove the lower part of the stomach with cancer and attache the remaining part of the stomach to the intestine. This procedure of stomach cancer treatment may also involve removing nearby lymph nodes and other tissues.
2. Total gastrectomy for tumours
- This is performed in the upper part of the stomach, whereby the surgeon removes the entire stomach, nearby lymph nodes, parts of the oesophagus and small intestine, and other tissues near a tumour. Rarely, the spleen also may be removed. The surgeon then connects the oesophagus directly to the small intestine.
- The time taken for healing after surgery is different for each patient, and you may be in the hospital for a week or two depending on the severity of your condition. You may have pain for the first few days. Medicine can help control your pain.
- Before your stomach cancer treatment begins, you should discuss all the medications for pain relief with your doctor or nurse. Post-surgery, your doctor can adjust the plan depending on your body's response and if you need more pain relief.
- Many people who have stomach cancer treatment feel too tired or weak for a while. Your doctors will watch for signs of bleeding, infection, or other problems that may require immediate attention.
- The surgery for stomach cancer can also cause constipation or diarrhoea. These symptoms or side-effects can usually be controlled with diet changes and medicine.
- Chemotherapy is the second option for Stomach cancer treatment in India that uses medicines to kill cancer cells. Usually, one or more chemotherapy drugs may be given intravenously or orally. A combination of drugs is given in a series of treatment cycles with breaks in between so that you can recover.
- The process of chemotherapy helps sterilize microscopic diseases after surgery. It may also slow tumor growth and relieve symptoms in patients who cannot have surgery. Chemotherapy, as a Stomach cancer treatment in India, is also used before surgery to shrink cancer and make it easier to remove.
- For people with advanced stomach cancer, this therapy could be used to relieve pain and other symptoms.
3. Radiation therapy
- Radiation therapy or radiotherapy uses high-energy beams such as X-rays and protons to kill cancer cells. For patients having locally advanced stomach cancer, radiation therapy may be used before and after surgery. It's often combined with chemotherapy treatments. If surgery isn't an option for you, combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be your primary stomach cancer treatment.
4. Targeted drugs
- Targeted drugs are different from Chemotherapy because they fight only cancer cells. Unlike chemo and radiation therapy, it doesn't kill healthy cells along with diseased ones. As a result, targeted therapies are more effective and have fewer side effects than the other stomach cancer treatment.
- Your team of doctors will describe and detail out your treatment choices, the expected results, and the possible side effects or complications. Because cancer treatments often damages healthy cells along with the cancerous ones, side effects are quite common. Before starting on the treatment, ask your doctors about possible side effects, and how to prevent or reduce these effects.
Causes of Stomach Cancer
Your stomach (along with the esophagus) is just one part of the upper section of your digestive tract. Your stomach is responsible for digesting food and then moving the nutrients along to the rest of your digestive organs, namely the small and large intestines.
Stomach cancer occurs when normally healthy cells within the upper digestive system become cancerous and grow out of control, forming a tumor. This process happens slowly. Stomach cancer tends to develop over many years.