Stomach Cancer

What is Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer is the abnormal growth of malignant cells within the stomach. The cancerous cells can break apart and spread to other organs throughout the body via the lymphatic system or the bloodstream. It is also possible for the stomach cancer cells to penetrate into organs that are located near the stomach.

It is not known what causes stomach cancer, but risk factors include a family history of stomach cancer, poor diet, smoking, obesity, low physical activity level, infection with Helicobacter Pylori, and stomach inflammation.

What are the Symptoms of Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer symptoms might include pain or discomfort in the stomach, vomiting, nausea, difficulty swallowing, blood in the stool, vomiting of blood, bloat or a feeling of fullness even after eating a small meal, and weight loss.

Because these symptoms can be associated with other conditions, a diagnosis of stomach cancer is made by conducting a physical exam, checking a patient’s medical history, and performing a biopsy and endoscopy.

Stomach Cancer Causes

Although it is not known exactly what causes stomach cancer, there are certain risk factors associated with getting it, usually something that can damage the stomach lining. Some of these factors include diseases like stomach polyps, lymphoma, tumors in the digestive system, or H. pylori bacterial infections.

Stomach cancer can also be caused by intestinal metaplasia (a condition that is usually accompanied by chronic atrophic gastritis). Researchers are still unsure about how this condition develops into stomach cancer, but some agree that it could be related to an H. pylori infection (a bacteria that can convert certain foods into chemicals that cause DNA cell mutations in the lining of the stomach).

How is Stomach Cancer Treated?

Treatments for stomach cancer include partial or total gastrectomy, which is a surgery to remove cancerous tissues, as well as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Treatment will depend upon the location and size of the stomach tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the patient’s overall health.

For stomach cancer that is creating a blockage within the gastrointestinal tract, treatment options include laser therapy, radiation therapy, the placement of a stent, and surgery.

Following stomach surgery, healthy eating habits will assist in healing the body. Supplementation with vitamins and minerals, along with altering the way that you eat, may be necessary.

Stomach Cancer Prevention

While there’s no exact way to prevent stomach cancer, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of getting it. Avoid eating too much meat and salty, processed foods. Instead, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is recommended. Also, make sure you’re getting plenty of exercise regularly. You can also prevent stomach cancer by cooking and storing food properly to avoid any potential stomach infections.

Stomach cancer is more likely if you’re over 50, male, you smoke cigarettes, and you have a family history of stomach cancer. Make sure to talk to your doctor about your family history so that you can find out whether you have inherited certain syndromes related to cancer. A family history of familial adenomatous polyposis, non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations can all be risk factors of stomach cancer. Having type A blood, a history of stomach lymphoma, or long-term inflammation of the stomach may mean you are at a higher risk. Megaloblastic (pernicious) anemia can also cause stomach cancer.

You are also at higher risk if you are African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander.

Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
November 22, 2017
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