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What Is Stomach Cancer? Definition, Symptoms, and Prevention
Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is the cancer of the stomach. Gastric cancer develops as cells in the stomach’s lining expand uncontrollably and produce tumors that can infect normal tissues and spread to other areas of the body. Let’s take a look at stomach cancer’s symptoms, risk factors, and preventative measures.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
Getting accurate stomach cancer information on the symptoms is vital for recognizing the onslaught of the disease. The early signs of stomach cancer are unclear and possible to mislead due to other less severe conditions. Initial symptoms of the disease that an individual may experience are:
- Regular indigestion and the feeling of heartburn
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty in swallowing food
- Constant burps
- The sensation of a full stomach or feeling bloated after eating food
- Constant pain in the stomach
- Black colored stools
- Noticeable appetite decline
- Loss in weight
When to Visit a Doctor
Stomach cancer can be treated easily if the diagnosis is made at an initial stage. You should seek medical help if your symptoms match the above-stated points.
Gastric cancers are prevalent in adults at a higher rate, with 90% of the cases happening in individuals over 55 years. The most common symptom is indigestion; however, it is not indicative that an individual below 55 years with indigestion would have gastric cancer.
It is essential to visit a gastric oncology expert if multiple symptoms or an uncommon symptom such as frequent vomiting persists.
Types of Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer develops gradually over the years. The stomach has five parts: the cardia, the fundus, the body, the antrum, and the pylorus. The stomach wall has five layers – the mucosa, the submucosa, the muscularis propia, the subserosa, and the serosa. Based on the location of the growth of cancerous cells in the stomach, symptoms and treatments may differ. The types of stomach cancer are:
- Adenocarcinoma: It is the most common type of gastric cancer and develops in the mucosa.
- Lymphoma: This develops in the stomach wall.
- Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST): This a rare type of cancer found in the stomach wall.
- Carcinoid Tumor: It develops in the hormone-producing cells in the stomach.
Stomach Cancer Causes
Stomach cancer is the result of alterations in the stomach cells. The reason for these changes is not clear. The disease starts with a shift in the composition of the cell’s DNA that further influences their growth and may expand and reproduce rapidly, resulting in a tumor. If not treated, the cancerous cell growth may spread to the lymph nodes, blood, bones, and even organs. The changes in the cell DNA that would contribute to gastric cancer happens over several years.
The cause of stomach cancer is unclear; however, many risk factors would contribute to an increased probability of stomach cancer in an individual.
- Age and Gender: Stomach cancer cases are more prevalent in people above 55 years, and the male gender is twice as likely to develop the disease than females.
- Smoking: Smokers are a two times higher probability of developing stomach cancers than non-smokers because dangerous chemicals in cigarettes get placed in throats via the cigarette’s smoke. The risk of stomach cancer is higher for people who have been smoking long-term.
- Helicobacter pylori: H. pylori is a bacterium that is mostly harmless but can cause infection in the stomach leading to ulcers, indigestion, and swelling, leading to stomach cancer.
- Food Habits: Foods such as pickles, salt, or beef are high causes of gastric cancer.
- Genetics: If any close genetically related family member has had stomach cancer, then the risk of developing the disease is high. Though the exact reason is unclear, a family history of stomach cancer can be due to E-cadherin genes, the h. pylori bacteria, or even diets rich in salt, beef, and pickles.
To lower the probability of developing gastric cancer, here are a few points:
- Since obesity is a factor, speak to your doctor about the risks and maintain a healthy way of life by gradually reducing your weight.
- Opt for fruits and vegetables. Try incorporating them as a necessity in your daily meals.
- Avoid smoking at all costs. If you are a smoker, seek medical help to quit the habit.
- Consult your doctor if you have a family history of stomach cancer cases.