Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer

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

In its early stages, gastric cancer rarely causes specific symptoms. Symptoms can include flatulence or heartburn, and are often only mistaken for stomach ulcers or resemble symptoms  of stomach disease  in general.

These conditions make gastric cancer difficult to detect early and are generally only diagnosed after entering the final stage. This of course will affect the chances of recovery.

Causes of Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer occurs due to genetic changes (mutations) in 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 stomach cancer, namely:

  • Smoke
  • Age 55 and over
  • Male gender
  • Have a family member with a history of stomach cancer
  • Had surgery on the stomach

Stomach cancer is also more at risk for people who have experienced the following diseases:

  • pylori bacterial  infection
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection
  • Chronic gastritis
  • Polyps in the stomach
  • Anemia due to deficiency of vitamin B12
  • Weak immune system, for example due to suffering from HIV/AIDS or using  immunosuppressive drugs in the long term
  • Other types of cancer, such as  lymphoma , esophageal cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and cervical cancer

Apart from these factors, lifestyle and diet can also increase a person's risk of stomach cancer, including:

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

Stomach Cancer Symptoms

Gastric cancer in its early stages often causes no symptoms. If it appears, the symptoms are generally considered to be ordinary heartburn complaints  . The following are some of the symptoms that stomach cancer sufferers can experience at an early stage:

  • Flatulence and frequent burping
  • Heartburn
  • Rising stomach acid ( heartburn )
  • Get full quickly when eating
  • Nauseous
  • Vomit

Advanced stomach cancer will cause more severe symptoms. It is at this stage that new sufferers generally come to see a doctor. Some of the symptoms of stomach cancer at an advanced stage are:

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

When to see a doctor

If you often experience stomach ulcers or recurrent digestive disorders, you should consult a  doctor . The doctor will perform gastric binoculars ( gastroscopy ), to see conditions in the stomach.

Vomiting blood or bloody bowel movements can make stomach cancer sufferers go into  shock  which can be fatal. Immediately go to the nearest hospital emergency room if you experience these complaints to get treatment.

Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

If the patient has 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 being felt, as well as the patient's family history of medical and illness, especially cancer.

Next, the doctor will do a physical examination of the patient's stomach to see if there is swelling and pain when the stomach is pressed. The doctor can also do a digital rectal examination to detect bloody bowel movements.

To determine whether a person has stomach cancer, the doctor will carry out further examinations in the form of:

  • Gastroscopy
    Gastroscopy or gastric binoculars is performed 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 stomach tissue for examination in the laboratory.
  • X
    -rays X- rays can help doctors see abnormalities in the lining of the stomach. So that the results are clearer, the patient will be asked to drink a special solution as a dye before the examination is carried out.
  • Blood
    tests Blood tests in the laboratory are carried out to find out if there is H . 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.
  • Ultrasound of the stomach
    This examination using  ultrasound waves aims to see if stomach 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 examination procedure is performed with a tool similar to a gastroscopy, but 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 inner lining of the stomach cavity and has spread to the surrounding 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 that have spread widely to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4
    The spread of stomach cancer at this stage is getting worse and reaching other organs.

Stomach cancer staging is determined through the examinations described earlier. This staging will help the doctor to provide the appropriate treatment method.

Stomach Cancer Treatment

Stomach cancer treatment methods depend on the stage of the cancer and the patient's general health condition. Meanwhile, the chances of recovering from stomach cancer depend on the stage of the cancer when it was initially 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. These four methods are often combined so that cancer cells in the stomach can be eradicated to the fullest.

The following is an explanation of stomach 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 at an early stage and is just developing in the inner lining of the stomach, surgery can be done with the help of a 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 affected by cancer.

Gastrectomy is performed 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 along with the lymph nodes can be removed.

Surgery, especially gastrectomy, carries the risk of complications in the form of bleeding, infection and digestive disorders.

2. Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy  aims to kill cancer cells using radiation beams. The radiation beam can come from a device 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 reduce the size of the cancer. While radiotherapy after surgery aims to kill the remaining cancer cells after surgery.

Radiotherapy must be carried out regularly. 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 types of drugs:

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

Chemotherapy can be combined with radiotherapy or surgery. For advanced, inoperable stomach 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 several side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,  anemia , hair loss, and weight loss. Usually, these side effects will disappear after chemotherapy treatment ends.

4. Target therapy

Targeted therapy has two functions, namely attacking cells that have genetic mutations to become cancer cells, or stimulating the immune system to eradicate 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 stomach cancer, treatment is usually only focused on reducing symptoms, so that the patient feels more comfortable.

Stomach Cancer Prevention

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

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

Because the symptoms of stomach cancer are almost the same as some other stomach disorders, most sufferers are not aware of it until stomach cancer is in its final stages.

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

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