About Stomach Cancer
Over one million cases of gastric cancer are diagnosed each year around the world. Stomach cancer is the 5th most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, and the 7th most prevalent. The cumulative risk of developing gastric cancer from birth to age 74 is 1.87% in males and 0.79% in females worldwide.
Stomach cancer happens when normal cells in the stomach change into abnormal cells and grow out of control.
There are different kinds of stomach cancer, depending on the type of cells and part of the stomach involved.
Some people who get stomach cancer have a condition called H. pylori infection. H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can infect the stomach and intestines. Infection with H. pylori sometimes causes symptoms such as belly pain, bloating, nausea, or vomiting. If it is not treated, it can lead to stomach cancer.
Early on, stomach cancer might not cause any symptoms. When stomach cancer causes symptoms, they can include
- Weight loss
- Belly pain, especially in the upper belly
- Trouble swallowing
- Having no appetite, or feeling full after eating a small amount of food
- Feeling tired or short of breath (from a condition called “anemia,” which is when people have too few red blood cells)
Upper endoscopy – This is the test most often done for stomach cancer. During this test, the doctor puts a thin tube with a camera and light on the end into the mouth and down into the stomach. This lets the doctor look at the stomach lining.
Biopsy – Doctors do this test during an upper endoscopy. During a biopsy, the doctor takes a small sample of tissue from an abnormal-looking area of the stomach. Then another doctor looks at the tissue under a microscope.
Imaging tests of the stomach, such as a CT scan – Imaging tests create pictures of the inside of the body.
Surgery to remove the cancer – During surgery, the doctor might remove part or all of the stomach. If the doctor removes all of the stomach, he or she will reconnect the digestive tract so that the patient can eat.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the medical term for medicines that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. Sometimes, people get chemotherapy before they have surgery.
Radiation therapy – Radiation can kill cancer cells.
Immunotherapy – This is the term doctors use for medicines that work with the body’s infection-fighting system (the “immune system”) to stop cancer growth.