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Gastric Cancer (Stomach Cancer)

2024/05/20
What is Gastric Cancer (Stomach Cancer)

Gastric cancer (also known as stomach cancer) forms in the tissue lining of the stomach. It is a common cancer worldwide especially in some Asian countries. There are several types of stomach cancer.

Causes of the condition

The exact cause remains unknown. However, it is known that a high-salt diet, lack of Vitamin C and a bacterium named Helicobacter pylori are all risk factors.

Certain health conditions may also increase the chances of stomach cancer, for example,

  • Family history of stomach cancer (gastric cancer)
  • A diet high in salty and smoked foods
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Smoking
Signs & symptoms
  • ‚ÄčIndigestion or discomfort at the upper abdomen
  • Heartburn after meal
  • Bloated feeling after eating
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Losing appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Black-coloured stools
  • Tiredness due to anaemia
  • Feeling full after small meals
Diagnosis and treatment options

Diagnosis

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, the doctor may refer you to see a specialist after asking about your personal and family medical history and a physical examination. 

The following tests are used to diagnose stomach cancer (gastric cancer):

  • Endoscopy
  • Barium X-ray
  • Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan)
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)
  • Diagnostic Laparoscopy

Treatment

The choice of treatment will depend on the stage and type of cancer, position of cancer, patient's age and general health. Gastrectomy surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy are the different treatment options available.  

Surgery is the most common treatment for gastric cancer especially when the tumour is confined to the stomach.

Total gastrectomy surgery is done when the entire stomach needs to be removed. Partial gastrectomy surgery is done when only part of the affected stomach needs to be removed.

Radiation therapy can be used before the surgery to shrink the tumour. It can also be used after the surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often combined with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy can result in diarrhoea, indigestion, nausea and vomiting.

Chemotherapy can be used before the surgery to shrink the tumour. It can also be used after the surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells. The chemotherapy drug type is dependent on the type of cancer.

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