Most of the stomach cancers belong to the category - Adenocarcinoma; meaning this starts in the glandular tissue of the lining of the stomach. Other types are lymphoma, gastric sarcoma, and carcinoid tumors.
Cancer starts off when there is a mutation in the gene and disrupts the normal cell cycle. As a result, cells escape programmed cell death and grow uncontrollably. Though the exact reason for this gene mutation is unknown, the factors that risk the onset of gastric cancer are,
1. Ulcers resulting from H. pylori infection
3. Type-A Blood
4. Diet high in salty, smoked, and pickled foods
5. Epstein-Barr viral infection
6. Exposure to asbestos
Early stages do not show many evident symptoms; even if a patient shows symptoms of indigestion, nausea, heartburn, loss of appetite etc, they are mistaken for another disease. And this makes early diagnosis a pain point. But, an advanced stage of the gastric cancer reflects more evident symptoms like dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), fluid accumulation in stomach creating a lumpy stomach, anemia, black tools, enlarged lymph nodes, bleeding in the stomach from esophageal varices, intrahepatic jaundice, inanition, obstruction in the gastric outlet etc.
Diagnostic measure to determine an optimal therapy for stomach cancer includes:
1. Complete Blood Count Test - Helpful in determining anemic condition resulting from liver dysfunction and poor nutrition.
2. Liver Function Tests
3. Upper Endoscopy
4. Upper GI series test
5. Imaging tests like CT scan, PET (Positron Emission Tomography), CT Scanning, MRI of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
Treatment options are purely based on the stage of cancer. Treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, chemoradiation (a mix of chemotherapy and radiation) and medications.
Cytotoxic drugs are used to stop the uncontrolled division of the cells. It usually takes from few weeks to months depending on the disease stage and may cause side effects.
Surgery is one of the resorts for the advanced stages of stomach cancer. It depends on the location, size, and invasive characteristics of the tumor. Few types of surgical methods are,
3. Subtotal gastrectomy
4. Lymph node dissection