Just like any other parts of the body, the stomach may develop cancer. Stomach cancer is common throughout the world and affects all races. Usually, it is more common in men than in women and occurs mostly in people ages between 40 and 60 years old.
Worldwide, stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer with about 952,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012 alone.
In Singapore, stomach cancer is 7th cancer affecting men while the 9th in women. It’s also the 4th leading cause of death among Singaporeans.
What Is Stomach Cancer And How Does It Form?
Cancer starts when the cells in the body begin to grow out of control. When it happens in the stomach, it’s dubbed as stomach cancer or gastric cancer. Usually, stomach cancers develop slowly over a long time. There are five parts of the stomach and the location of the tumor may affect the treatment option for the disease.
Signs And Symptoms Of Stomach Cancer
Early symptoms include indigestion, pain, nausea, fatigue and dysphagia or difficulty of swallowing. There are other diseases that may cause similar symptoms such as hyperacidity, acid reflux, and gastritis. Stomach cancer is not diagnosed right away.
Usually, when the late symptoms of stomach cancer happen, it’s too far advanced and more difficult to treat. Late symptoms include pallor from anemia, hematemesis or vomiting of blood, weight loss, enlarged stomach, enlarged lymph nodes and in late cases, pleural effusions.
Treatment Of Stomach Cancer
In order to treat gastric cancers, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are recommended. The surgical approach in stomach cancer depends on the size, location, and characteristics of the tumor. The doctor might remove a part of the stomach or other tissues surrounding the cancer cells. The main purpose of surgery is to prevent cancer spread to other parts of the body.
There are various types of surgery like total gastrectomy, esophagogastrostomy for tumors of the cardia, subtotal gastrectomy for cancer of the distal stomach and lymph node dissection.
Another treatment option is chemotherapy. The drugs kill the cancer cells and keep them from spreading. There are two types of chemotherapy agents, oral pills, and intravenous solution. This process may take weeks depending on how many cycles prescribed by the doctor.
Radiation therapy also works in killing the cancer cells. The high-energy waves kill the malignant cells and prevent them from spreading to nearby tissues.
Stomach cancer is a deadly disease. Thus, it is important to treat gastric cancers immediately. One of the most important steps is the early diagnosis of the disease. Sometimes, the prognosis of a cancer diagnosis depends on how early it was detected. The earlier it was diagnosed, the better chances of killing the cells and preventing them from spreading, a term called metastasis. Hence, when any of these symptoms appear, it’s always better to seek medical help.