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What is Gastric Cancer (Stomach Cancer)? Print E-mail
Written by Glenn Rosenberg   
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Stomach cancer is cancer that begins in the stomach. Men are affected more than women.
What is going on in the body?

Stomach cancer usually arises from cells that line the inside of the stomach. A cell will undergo changes that cause it to become cancerous
. It will begin to grow and multiply uncontrollably. The cancer cells will form a tumor. The tumor will invade and destroy tissues around it as it grows. Eventually it can penetrate through the wall of the stomach and spread to structures around the stomach. Cancer cells can also break off from the tumor and enter the blood stream. These cells will form new tumors in other parts of the body, a process known as metastasis.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
No one knows the precise reason why this cancer occurs. People from Japan are at higher risk than people from other areas. Risk decreases when people at risk move to areas of lower risk. This may be due to changes in diet, but this has not been proven. Cancer of the stomach is higher among people who smoke and consume alcohol than in those who do not.

Risk factors for stomach cancer include:
# family history
# type A blood
# lack of stomach acid
# low socioeconomic status
# low consumption of fruits and vegetables
# consumption of salted, smoked, or poorly preserved food
# cigarette smoking
# increased age
# certain ethnic groups
What are the treatments for the disease?


If the disease is found early, surgery to remove all of the cancer and some surrounding tissue can be performed. Sometimes chemotherapy or radiation therapy is given before surgery to shrink the tumor. Chemotherapy and radiation are sometimes offered after surgery to help prevent recurrence. Surgery to bypass advanced cancer can relieve symptoms of nausea. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may also shrink uncomfortable tumors in people with advanced cancers. Advanced stomach cancer is not curable.
What are the side effects of the treatments?

Removing most of the affected stomach may mean the person will have to permanently modify the diet. Many patients will experience dumping syndrome, which is sweating and weakness after eating. Small, frequent meals are recommended. Side effects of chemotherapy are significant but manageable. The specific side effects vary according the medication given. Radiation therapy to the area can cause diarrhea and increased nausea. This is generally manageable and will resolve when treatment ends.
What happens after treatment for the disease?

The person will be monitored to determine the response of the cancer to treatment.
If the cancer was completely removed, the person will be monitored over time to determine if the cancer returns. If the cancer returns or progresses, different therapy can try to improve quality of life. Treatment at this point will not cure the cancer.
How is the disease monitored?
CT scans are used to monitor the spread of the disease to other organs such as the liver. CT scans can also be used to evaluate response of the cancer to treatment.

 

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