Stomach Cancer

The growth of abnormal group of cells in the stomach leads to stomach cancer. Also known as gastric cancer, this type of cancer generally shows signs of frequent burping, heartburn, dysphagia, feeling bloated, pain in sternum, trapped wind, vomiting, etc. The diagnosis of stomach cancer is done through gastroscopic exam, barium meal x-ray, CT scan, ultrasound scan, etc.

Oral cancer treatment- The treatment of oral cancer is conducted by a group of specialist doctors including chemotherapy oncologists, surgeons, dental practitioners, radiation oncologists, rehabilitation specialists and nutritionists. Oral cancer treatment depends upon a number of factors like the location of the cancer in the oropharynx or your mouth, how far it has spread and your health condition.

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Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer is defined as the abnormal growth of cells in the stomach. The accumulated abnormal cells form into a malignant mass in a part of the stomach, thus slowing your digestion ability and reducing your appetite.

Other symptoms of stomach cancer include feeling of heartburn, slight nausea, feeling of bloating after every meal, vomiting, acute stomach pain, blood in your stool, yellowish skin and eyes, swelling in the stomach, feeling of tiredness and weakness, diarrhoea and constipation, trouble with swallowing , etc.

If you are suffering from indigestion problems and have any one of the following medical conditions, check with your doctor immediately:

  • Family history of stomach cancer
  • Barret’s esophagus
  • Dysplasia (abnormal growth of cells or typically a precancerous mass of cells)
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Gastritis or inflammation of your stomach

Although, there is still no accurate explanation for the causes of cancerous cells, scientists can help explain about a few risk factors of stomach cancer.

  • Gastritis (inflammation in your gut)
  • Abnormal growths in your stomach (polyps)
  • Long-lasting anemia
  • Certain genes
  • Type-A blood
  • Smoking and being obese for a long time
  • Stomach surgery for ulcer
  • Having diet rich in salty foods, smoked and pickled foods
  • Over exposure to asbestos
  • Working in rubber, timber, metal and coal industries

If you notice any cancer signs or symptoms, get a diagnosis of stomach cancer right away. A thorough physical examination is conducted to ensure you don’t have any major physical concern and are ready for the operation. Blood tests are done to find any signs of cancer. An upper endoscope of your stomach helps your doctor insert a flexible, thin tube with a camera fitted to it down your throat to examine your stomach.

A CT scan is often done to get detailed pictures of the inside of your stomach. Another popular test called, the ‘’Upper GI series’’ is done to get a clearer picture of your stomach by giving you a chalky liquid that coats your stomach for clearer visualizations. Doctors may perform a biopsy by taking a sample tissue from your stomach and studying it under a microscope for signs of abnormal cells.

There are several treatments of stomach cancer that include surgeries, chemotherapies, chemoradiations, targeted drugs, etc. If you are diagnosed with the disease, the doctor decides which treatment option is right for you. The suggestion is, however, to follow preventive measures to treat cancer. They include:

  • Stop smoking tobacco
  • Treat stomach infections with antibiotics that destroy bacteria and heal the inner lining of your stomach, thus cutting out possibilities of cancer
  • Eat healthy as much as possible. Your daily diet should include lots of vegetables and fruits, rich in vitamins and fibre. Avoid processed and junk foods.

Despite the preventive measures, if you show signs of stomach cancer, you will have to undergo a treatment.

Whether you have a surgery or chemotherapy or other procedures, there are few common preparations before stomach cancer treatment.

  • Learn about the possible side effects post surgery that normally includes mobility limitations, scarring, fatigue, changes in fertility and sexual function, changes in ability to learn remember or judge, swelling, etc.

If you are have chemotherapy, ask your doctor about the related side effects that generally include decreased immunity, anemia, mouth sores, forgetfulness, hair loss, skin rashes, cataracts, etc. If you desire you have children in future, talk to your doctor regarding this.

In case of radiation therapy, talk to your health care provider if radiation may affect your ability to become pregnant in the future. Discuss about the side effects of the treatment and how early you can return back to your normal routine.

  • Cancer treatment may take a toll on your physical and mental health. Talk to your doctor about how to deal with it, how to manage the side effects, identity symptoms and create a follow-up health care plan.
  • Tell your doctor about the types of medications you are on and whether you have any other major health concern.
  • Pack your essentials before the day of the surgery. Stop drinking alcohol or smoking for days before the treatment starts. You should follow a healthy eating regime as advised by your doctor.

Surgery for Stomach cancer

There are different types of surgical procedures followed in this case:

  • Endoscopic resection- This type of surgery is used to treat early stages of cancer. An endoscope (tube) is passed through the mouth, down the throat into the stomach. A camera fitted to the tube helps doctors get visualizations of the inside of the stomach on a monitor while operating. Surgical tools are inserted through the tube to remove malignant tumours and diseased tissues from the area.
  • Partial gastrectomy- This helps remove part of the stomach. A midline incision is done in the stomach to allow surgeons have access for removal of the stomach, part of the esophagus, and first part of the small intestine. The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia.
  • Total gastrectomy- This type of operation is done when cancer has spread throughout the stomach up to the esophagus. The technique of surgery is the same as partial gastrectomy. It takes two to three hours to perform the surgery.
  • Placing feeding tubes- During endoscopy, doctors place a feeding tube into the intestine that sticks out of the skin on the abdomen. Liquid nutrition is given to the patient through the tube to prevent malnutrition. Generally, placement of feeding tubes are done in patients having problems with taking sufficient nutrition after the surgery, which is often followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc.
  • Chemotherapy -

    On the day of chemotherapy, the patient is either given oral medications or by injecting it through an IV port created in the vein. The medicines reach directly to the bloodstream and circulate through the body, thus destroying cancer cells. Chemotherapy is given in repeated intervals with specific gaps between two chemos to help the patient recover adequately.

    Radiation therapy

    During a radiation therapy, the patient is asked to lie down still. The procedure can be performed externally or internally. While, radiation rays are directed on the cancerous parts of the body, the other exposed area are covered with lead shields in order to prevent normal tissues from getting damaged.

Completing a stomach cancer treatment can be quite stressful. If you have had a surgery, you are kept in the recovery unit after the procedure. Until you are able to walk, talk and eat normally you have to stay in the hospital.

Usually, it takes up to a week for you to recover from stomach cancer surgery. In overall, it takes three to six months approximately to recover completely. During this period, the doctor keeps observations of your progress and accordingly, follow-up appointments are fixed. You need to have more control over your diet post stomach cancer treatment.

You will have to undergo several examinations and laboratory tests along with imaging tests to look for any symptoms of cancer. Talk to your cancer team regarding any problems or changes that you may notice after the surgery. Learn about the possibilities of recurrence (coming back) of stomach cancer in the future.