Stomach cancer also known as gastric cancer is the type of cancer that is characterized by a growth of cells that are cancerous within the stomach lining. This type of cancer does not usually show any symptoms in its initial stages thereby making it difficult to diagnose.
The cases of stomach cancer are increasing every day. In fact, according to the data released by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), they estimated that last year, there are more than 24,590 new stomach cancer cases. The same institute also estimates that stomach cancer only makes about 1.5 percent of the entire new cancer cases in the United States. Fortunately, cases of stomach cancer are relatively rare when you compare it other types of cancer such as breast cancer.
One of the worse sides of stomach cancer is inability to diagnose it until it becomes too late. This is due to the fact that it shows no symptoms in the early stages and therefore goes undiagnosed until it reaches to other parts of the body, thereby greatly reducing the chances of getting it treated.
Since stomach cancer is difficult to treat due to inability to diagnose it in early stages, we will discuss what causes this condition and how you can prevent it, we will also look at ways you can try and treat stomach cancer.
Causes of Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer usually occurs when your healthy cells located within the upper digestive system starts growing cancerous cells and then grow out of control thereby developing into a tumor. This process that leads into development of a tumor happens very slowly and undetectable. It takes stomach cancer many years to fully develop.
Stomach Cancer Risk Factors
The primary causative agent of stomach cancer is the tumor that develops in the stomach. But, there are some other factors which research have shown might increase the risk of growing these cells that are cancerous. Stomach cancer risk factors consist of certain diseases and health conditions which include:
- Tumor in digestive system apart from the stomach
- H. pylori bacterial infections
- Stomach polyps
Prevalence of stomach cancers
Stomach cancer is common among older adults who have reach or pass the age of 50. Men also suffer stomach cancer more than women. Smoking can increase your chances of suffering from stomach cancer. Another factor is the family history. Someone from a family with history of stomach cancer has more chances of suffering it than someone who has no family history of stomach cancer. Furthermore, this condition is more prevalent among people from Asian origin especially Japanese and Korean, and South Americans.
You also face the risk of getting stomach cancer if:
- You are taking too much meat
- You don’t exercise
- You don’t cook food properly before eating
- You eat a lot of processed or salty foods
- You have a history of alcohol abuse
It is advisable to get tested any time you suspected that you are at risk of getting stomach cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
Research by the National Cancer Institute revealed that there are no early symptoms or signs of stomach cancer in its early stages. What this implies is that people with this condition don’t know that they have it until it has reached an advanced stage.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of stomach cancer at advanced stage;
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent heartburn
- Weight loss
- Bloody stools
- Excessive fatigue
- Early satiety
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Constant bloating
Having all these symptoms do not confirm that you have stomach cancer as they are the same symptoms someone with a stomach virus or ulcer will experience. These symptoms may also occur with other types of cancer. You need to get tested to confirm if it is stomach cancer when you begin to experience these symptoms.
Treatment of Stomach Cancer
When you are diagnose with stomach cancer, your doctor may employ one of the following methods below to treat you:
- Radiation therapy
- Immunotherapy like medication and vaccines
Stomach cancer treatment usually differs from one individual to another as it will depend on the origin and stage of the cancer. Your age and overall health is put into consideration when determining the type of treatment you will receive. When you are diagnosed with stomach cancer, the objective is not only to treat it but also to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body such as bones, lungs, liver and lymph nodes.
Prevention of Stomach Cancer
It is very hard to prevent stomach cancer, but you can greatly reduce the risk of getting it by:
- Exercising regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Eating balanced diet
- Avoid too much salt and meat
- Maintaining a healthy weight
People who have other diseases that normally lead to stomach cancer are advised to take some medications that can help them lower the risk of stomach cancer by their doctor.