Gastric cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lining of the stomach.
The stomach is a J-shaped organ in the upper abdomen. It is part of the digestive system, which processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) in foods that are eaten and helps pass waste material out of the body. After leaving the stomach, partly digested food passes into the small intestine and then into the large intestine.
The stomach and esophagus are part of the upper digestive system.
The wall of the stomach is made up of 3 layers of tissue: the mucosal (innermost) layer, the muscularis (middle) layer, and the serosal (outermost) layer. Gastric cancer begins in the cells lining the mucosal layer and spreads through the outer layers as it grows.
FACTORS AFFECTING DEVELOPMENT OF GASTRIC CANCER
Having any of the following medical conditions:
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection of the stomach.
- Chronicgastritis (inflammation of the stomach).
- Pernicious anemia.
- Intestinal metaplasia (a condition in which the normal stomach lining is replaced with the cells that line the intestines).
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or gastricpolyps.
- Eating a diet high in salted, smoked foods and low in fruits and vegetables.
- Eating foods that have not been prepared or stored properly.
- Being older or male.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Having a mother, father, sister, or brother who has had stomach cancer.
SYMPTOMS OF GASTRIC CANCER
In the early stages of gastric cancer, the following symptoms may occur:
- Indigestion and stomach discomfort.
- A bloated feeling after eating.
- Mild nausea.
- Loss of appetite.
In advanced stages of gastric cancer, the following symptoms may occur:
- Blood in the stool.
- Weight loss for no known reason.
- Stomach pain.
- Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin).
- Ascites (build-up of fluid in the abdomen).
- Trouble swallowing.
TESTS THAT ARE USED TO DETECT) AND DIAGNOSE GASTRIC CANCER:
- Blood chemistry studies
- Complete blood count (CBC):
- Upper endoscopy
- Fecal occult blood test
- Barium swallow
- CT scan (CAT scan)
FACTORS AFFECTING THE PROGNOSIS (CHANCE OF RECOVERY) AND TREATMENT
The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage and extent of the cancer (whether it is in the stomach only or has spread to lymph nodes or other places in the body).
- The patient’s general health.
When gastric cancer is found very early, there is a better chance of recovery.
WAYS TO DEVELOP GASTRIC CANCER
The three ways that cancer spreads in the body are:
- Through tissue. Cancer invades the surrounding normal tissue.
- Through the lymph system. Cancer invades the lymph system and travels through the lymph vessels to other places in the body.
- Through the blood. Cancer invades the veins and capillaries and travels through the blood to other places in the body.