Stomach cancer, is lead by precancerous changes in the lining of the stomach. This cancer is the result of accumulation of malignant or cancerous group of cells that is responsible for developing a tumor anywhere in the stomach. Men are more likely to suffer from stomach cancer as compared to women. This cancer has also been seen in older people who are above 55 years of age.
Gastric cancer can spread to adjacent lymph nodes, and it can grow through the stomach wall to invade nearby organs such as the colon, pancreas, spleen and liver. After growing through the wall of the stomach, this cancer can also spread to the inner lining of the abdomen, the peritoneum and other organs within the abdominal cavity, such as ovaries. In addition, it can spread through the bloodstream to involve the lungs or more-distant organs.
Early stomach cancer often does not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, the most common symptoms are:
- Discomfort or pain in the stomach area
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Feeling full or bloated after a small meal
- Vomiting blood or having blood in the stool
If you have a symptom that suggests stomach cancer, your doctor must find out whether it is really due to cancer or to some other cause. Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist, a doctor whose specialty is diagnosing and treating digestive problems.
The doctor asks about your personal and family health history. You may have blood or other lab tests. You also may have:
• Physical exam: The doctor checks your abdomen for fluid, swelling, or other changes. The doctor also feels for swollen lymph nodes. Your skin and eyes are checked to see if they seem yellow.
• Upper GI series: The doctor orders x-rays of your esophagus and stomach. The x-rays are taken after you drink a barium solution. The solution makes your stomach show up more clearly on the x-rays.
• Endoscopy: The doctor uses a thin, lighted tube (endoscope) to look into your stomach. The doctor first numbs your throat with an anesthetic spray. You also may receive medicine to help you relax. The tube is passed through your mouth and esophagus to the stomach.
• Biopsy: The doctor uses an endoscope to remove tissue from the stomach. A pathologist checks the tissue under a microscope for cancer cells. A biopsy is the only sure way to know if cancer cells are present.
The goal of surgery is to remove all of the stomach cancer and a margin of healthy tissue, when possible. Options include:
Removing a Portion of the Stomach (Subtotal Gastrectomy).
During subtotal Gastrectomy, the surgeon removes only the portion of the stomach affected by cancer. Subtotal gastrectomy can be of two types.
- Distal subtotal gastrectomy is performed if the tumor cells are present in the lower part of the stomach near to the stomach duodenum junction.
- Proximal subtotal gastrectomy is done when the tumor is situated in the upper part of the stomach and also involves the esophagus
Removing the Entire Stomach (Total Gastrectomy).
Total Gastrectomy involves removing the entire stomach and some surrounding tissue. The esophagus is then connected directly to the small intestine to allow food to move through your digestive system.
Removing Lymph nodes to look for Cancer.
The surgeon examines and removes lymph nodes in your abdomen to look for cancer cells.
This therapy uses cancer destroying drugs for treating stomach cancer. When the cancer has invaded the stomach wall layers surrounding the lymph nodes and nearby organs then chemotherapy is given. For shrinking the tumor first, chemotherapy is given before the surgery. It can also be given after the surgery for destroying the remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy can also be combined with radiation therapy that provides relieves from many cancer symptoms and can also delay the recurrence of the cancer.
Doctors may recommend radiation therapy in combination with chemotherapy or surgery. Radiation oncologists a have extensive experience in the treatment of gastric cancer, and they use specialized techniques to limit the radiation dose to surrounding healthy tissue.
You may want to ask some questions before your treatment begins: