Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer

Gastric cancer is cancer that occurs due to abnormal and uncontrolled growth of gastric cells . This abnormal cell growth occurs because the cells in the stomach undergo genetic changes.

In its early stages, gastric cancer rarely causes specific symptoms. Symptoms can include abdominal bloating or heartburn, and are often simply thought of as heartburn or resembling common  stomach ailments  .

This condition makes gastric cancer difficult to detect early and is generally only diagnosed after entering the late stages. This of course will affect the chances of healing.

Causes of Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer occurs due to genetic changes (mutations) in the cells in the stomach. These mutations cause these cells to grow abnormally and uncontrollably so that they become  cancer cells .

The cause of the genetic changes in gastric cells is not known with certainty. However, there are several factors that are known to increase a person's risk of developing gastric cancer, namely:

  • Smoke
  • 55 years and over
  • Male gender
  • Have a family member with a history of gastric cancer
  • Have you ever had gastric surgery?

Gastric cancer is also more at risk for people who have had the following diseases:

  • pylori bacterial  infection
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection
  • Chronic gastric inflammation
  • Polyps in the stomach
  • Anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Weak immune systems, for example, because you have HIV/AIDS or  long-term use of immunosuppressive drugs
  • Other types of cancer, such as  lymphoma , esophageal cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and cervical cancer

In addition to these factors, lifestyle and diet can also increase a person's risk of developing stomach cancer, including:

  • Often eat meat, especially processed meat
  • Often eat processed and high-salt foods
  • Frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Not storing and cooking food properly
  • Rarely exercise
  • Rarely eat vegetables and fruit
  • Overweight or  obesity

Stomach Cancer Symptoms

Stomach cancer in its early stages often causes no symptoms. If they do occur, the symptoms are generally considered to be common heartburn complaints  . The following are some of the symptoms that can be experienced by people with gastric cancer at an early stage:

  • Stomach bloating and frequent burping
  • Heartburn
  • Increased stomach acid ( heartburn )
  • Get full quickly when you eat
  • Nauseous
  • Vomit

Advanced gastric cancer will cause more severe symptoms. It is at this stage that new patients generally come for treatment to the doctor. Some of the symptoms of gastric cancer at an advanced stage are:

  • Vomiting blood
  • Black stools or  bloody stools
  • Lack of blood or anemia
  • Jaundice
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Body feels weak
  • Swelling in the abdomen due to fluid buildup

When to go to the doctor

If you often experience complaints of stomach ulcers or repeated indigestion, you should consult a  doctor . The doctor will perform gastric binoculars ( gastroscopy ), to see conditions in the stomach.

Vomiting blood or bloody stools can make people with gastric cancer go into  shock  which can be fatal. Immediately go to the nearest hospital emergency room if you experience these complaints to get treatment.

Gastric Cancer Diagnosis

If the patient is vomiting blood, the doctor will first treat it to stabilize the patient's condition. After the patient's condition is stable, the doctor will ask about the symptoms felt, as well as the patient's medical and family history, especially cancer.

Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination of the patient's abdomen to see if there is swelling and pain when the abdomen is pressed. Doctors can also perform a digital rectal examination to detect bloody stools.

To determine whether a person has gastric cancer, the doctor will perform further examinations in the form of:

  • Gastroscopy
    Gastroscopy or gastric binoculars is done by inserting a camera tube into the stomach through the mouth. This tool can help doctors to see the condition of the stomach, as well as take samples of gastric tissue to be studied in the laboratory.
  • X
    -rays X- rays can help doctors to see any abnormalities in the lining of the stomach. To make the results clearer, the patient will be asked to drink a special solution as a coloring agent before the examination is carried out.
  • Blood
    tests Blood tests in the laboratory are done to determine if there is an H infection . pylori , as well as to check the function of other organs, such as the liver and kidneys.
  • Stool test The
    doctor will take a sample of the patient's stool to check for blood in the stool.
  • Abdominal ultrasound
    Examination using  ultrasound waves aims to see if gastric cancer has invaded other organs in the digestive system, especially the liver.
  • CT scan CT scan
    examination is  done to determine the development and spread of cancer.
  • Laparoscopic surgery
    This procedure is performed with an instrument similar to a gastroscopy, but is inserted through a small incision in the abdominal wall. Laparoscopic surgery aims to determine the spread of gastric cancer tissue.

Stomach Cancer Stage

Based on the severity and spread, gastric cancer is divided into 4  stages , namely:

  • Stage 1
    At this stage, the cancer is in the lining of the stomach cavity and has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage 2
    At this stage, the cancer has invaded the muscle lining of the stomach and spread more and more to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3
    At this stage, the entire lining of the stomach has been eaten away by cancer or many small cancerous growths have spread widely to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4
    The spread of gastric cancer at this stage is getting worse and reaches other organs of the body.

Staging of gastric cancer is carried out through the examinations described previously. This staging will help the doctor to provide the appropriate treatment method.

Gastric Cancer Treatment

Gastric cancer treatment methods depend on the stage of the cancer and the patient's general health condition. Meanwhile, the chance of recovering from gastric cancer depends on the stage of the cancer when it was first diagnosed, as well as the health condition and age of the patient.

Treatment methods that can be undertaken include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and targeted drug therapy. The four methods are often combined so that cancer cells in the stomach can be eradicated to the maximum.

The following is an explanation of the gastric cancer treatment methods:

1. Operation

Gastric surgery  aims to remove cancerous tissue from the stomach. The type of surgery performed depends on the stage of the cancer. If the cancer is still in its early stages and has just developed in the inner lining of the stomach, surgery can be performed with the help of gastroscopy.

Another surgical method that doctors can choose to treat stomach cancer is  gastrectomy . In this procedure, the doctor will remove part or all of the stomach that is affected by cancer.

Gastrectomy is done if the cancer has spread to other parts of the stomach to the tissues around the stomach. In a gastrectomy, some of the tissue around the stomach and lymph nodes may be removed.

Surgery, especially gastrectomy, carries a risk of complications such as bleeding, infection, and digestive disorders.

2. Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy  aims to kill cancer cells using radiation. Radiation rays can come from a device that is placed on the skin near the patient's stomach (internal radiation), or using a special radiation device (external radiation).

Radiotherapy can be done before or after surgery. Radiotherapy before surgery aims to shrink the size of the cancer. While radiotherapy after surgery aims to kill cancer cells remaining after surgery.

Radiotherapy should be done routinely. Although this procedure is painless, patients may experience side effects such as  diarrhea , fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion, after undergoing this procedure.

3. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy  is the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be in the form of tablets, infusions, or a combination of both. Doctors usually give a combination of two or three of the following drugs:

  • Epirubicin
  • Capecitabine
  • Cisplatin
  • Fluorouracil
  • Irinotecan
  • Oxaliplatin

Chemotherapy can be combined with radiotherapy or surgery. For inoperable advanced gastric cancer, chemotherapy can help slow the progression of the cancer and relieve the patient's symptoms.

Chemotherapy can be done for several weeks to several months. This procedure will cause some side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,  anemia , hair loss, and weight loss. Usually, these side effects will go away after chemotherapy treatment ends.

4. Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy has two functions, namely attacking cells that have genetic mutations into cancer cells, or stimulating the immune system to destroy these cells.

Targeted therapy can be combined with chemotherapy. Some types of drugs used in targeted drug therapy are:

  • Imatinib
  • Regorafenib
  • Sunitinib
  • Trastuzumab
  • Ramucirumab

In late-stage gastric cancer, treatment is usually only focused on reducing symptoms, so the patient feels more comfortable.

Gastric Cancer Prevention

To avoid stomach cancer, you can take the following steps:

  • Quit smoking
  • Applying a healthy diet, for example eating  fiber-rich foods , and reducing salty and processed foods
  • Maintain  ideal body weight
  • Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes per day

Because the symptoms of gastric cancer are almost the same as some other gastric disorders, most people don't realize it until gastric cancer is in its late stages.

Therefore, if you experience symptoms of heartburn that do not go away, immediately consult a doctor for  early detection . Treatment of gastric cancer as early as possible can increase the chances of recovery.

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