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Stomach Cancer - Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

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Stomach Cancer - Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

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The growth of cancerous cells within the stomach lining is called stomach cancer or gastric cancer. Read below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At October 28, 2019
Reviewed AtMay 7, 2024

What Is Stomach Cancer?

The growth of cancerous cells within the stomach lining is called stomach cancer or gastric cancer. This cancer is difficult to analyze because it does not cause any symptoms in the earlier stages. Stomach cancer accounts for 1.7 percent of new cancer cases worldwide.

While stomach cancer is relatively uncommon compared to other types of cancer, probably the biggest threat of this disease is the difficulty of diagnosing it. Since stomach cancer typically does not cause any early symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed until after it spreads to other parts of the body. This makes it more difficult to treat.

Though stomach cancer can be difficult to analyze and treat, it is important to get the learning that individuals have to beat the disease.

What Causes Stomach Cancer?

The stomach is just one part of the upper section of the digestive system. The stomach is liable for digesting food and after that moving the nutrients along to the rest of the digestive organs, in particular the internal organs.

Stomach cancer happens when typically healthy cells within the upper digestive system become cancerous and develop out of control, shaping a tumor. This is a slow process and it takes many years for the tumor to develop.

What Are the Types of Stomach Cancer?

Adenocarcinomas account for 90 to 95 percent of stomach cancer cases. The mucosa, or innermost lining of the stomach, is where these malignancies originate from gland cells.

There are two primary kinds of adenocarcinomas in the stomach:

  1. Under a microscope, the cancer cells in intestinal adenocarcinomas appear to be normal cells because they are highly differentiated.

  2. Under a microscope, diffuse adenocarcinomas have poorly or undifferentiated cancer cells that appear different from normal cells. Compared to intestinal adenocarcinomas, diffuse adenocarcinomas develop and propagate more quickly and are more difficult to cure.

Other cancers that develop in the stomach are as follows:

  1. Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma (GEJ) - A cancer that originates at the junction of the esophagus and gastric cardia.

  2. Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors - A type of cancer that begins in the neuroendocrine cells of the intestinal tract.

  3. Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST) - A cancer type that begins in the nerve cells that line the wall of the stomach.

  4. Primary Gastric Lymphoma - A kind of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that develops in the stomach.

What Are Risk Factors of Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer is directly connected to tumors in the stomach. However, there are a few factors that might increase the risk of developing these cancerous cells. These risk factors incorporate certain diseases and conditions, for example,

1. Lymphoma (a type of blood cancer).

2. H.pylori bacterial infection (a common stomach infection that can sometimes prompt ulcers).

3. The presence of tumors in other parts of the digestive system.

4. Stomach polyps (abnormal growth of tissue on the lining of the stomach).

Stomach cancer is more common among:

1. Older adults (as a rule people 50 years and older).

2. Men.

3. Smoking tobacco.

4. A positive family history of the disease.

5. People who are of Asian (particularly Korean or Japanese), South American, or Belarusian descent.

While individuals own medical history can impact their risk of developing stomach cancer, certain lifestyle factors can likewise assume a job. One may probably get stomach cancer if they:

1. Consume a lot of salty and processed foods.

2. Eat too much meat.

3. Have a history of alcohol abuse.

4. Do not exercise.

5. Do not cook or store food properly.

If one is at risk of developing stomach cancer, it is best to get some screening tests done. As this cancer does not cause any symptoms in the early stages, screening tests are the only sure way to rule it out.

What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Cancer?

As indicated by the NCI Trusted Source, there are typically no early signs or symptoms of stomach cancer. Unfortunately, this implies that people often feel nothing is wrong until cancer has reached the late stage. The absolute most common symptoms of cutting edge stomach cancer are:

1. Nausea and vomiting.

2. Frequent heartburn.

3. Loss of appetite, sometimes sudden weight loss.

4. Constant bloating.

5. Feeling full after eating a small portion (early satiety).

6. Bloody stools.

7. Jaundice.

8. Excessive fatigue.

9. Stomach pain that worsens after meals.

How Is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis, the doctor will first play out a physical exam to check for any abnormalities. They may likewise arrange a blood test, including a test for the presence of H. pylori bacteria. More diagnostic tests should be done if the doctor accepts that individual show indications of stomach cancer. Diagnostic tests specifically search for suspected tumors and other abnormalities in the stomach and throat. These tests may include:

1. An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.

2. Biopsy.

3. Imaging tests, for example, CT scans and X-rays.

How Is Stomach Cancer Treated?

The treatment options include:

1. Chemotherapy.

2. Radiation therapy.

3. Surgery.

4. Immunotherapy (vaccines and medicines).

The treatment plan will depend on the cause and stage of cancer. Apart from killing the cancer cells in the stomach, the treatment should also prevent the cells from spreading to the lymph nodes, lungs, bones, and liver.

What Are the Ways to Prevent Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer as such cannot be prevented, but following tips that can lower the risk of developing all types of cancer.

1) Maintain a healthy weight.

2) Consume a balanced diet and a diet low in fat.

3) Quit smoking.

4) Exercise regularly.

What Is the Prognosis of Stomach Cancer?

When stomach cancer is diagnosed, the prognosis is usually not favorable. As the cancer grows more aggressive and spreads outside of the primary stomach tumor, its overall five-year survival rate decreases. This rate drops to 32 percent if the cancer spreads to the stomach's deeper tissues. The survival rate of stomach cancer decreases to six percent if it has spread to distant organs. Because of this, early detection is essential to improve the prognosis for stomach cancer patients.


Some medications are also used to lower the risk of stomach cancer. This is generally done for people who have other diseases that may contribute to cancer. To know more about these drugs, consult a medical gastroenterologist online now. The incidence of gastric cancer correlates with socioeconomic status and is clearly dependent on environmental or geographical factors.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Early Warning Signs of Stomach Cancer?

The early sign of stomach cancer are:
- Weight loss.
- Poor appetite.
- Discomfort in the abdomen, normally above the navel.
- Abdominal pain.
- Nausea.
- Heartburn or indigestion.
- Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen.
- Vomiting, with or without blood.
- Low red blood cell count (anemia).
- Blood in the stool.


Is Stomach Cancer Treatable?

If stomach cancer is diagnosed early, then the chances of better recovery are higher. In the majority of the cases, stomach cancer is identified only in the advanced stages. This will make the prognosis poorer. If it is diagnosed in the later stages, a complete cure is not possible.


What Are the Common Causes of Stomach Cancer?

The primary cause of stomach cancer is not known. In some patients, genetic mutation has resulted in stomach cancer. A few conditions, habits, and foods are known to increase the risk of stomach cancer. They are:
- Obesity.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- A diet low in vegetables and fruits.
- A diet high in smoked foods.
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori.
- Family history of stomach cancer.
- Smoking.
- Long-term stomach inflammation (gastritis).


How Will Stomach Cancer Feel Like?

When a person has stomach cancer, they will experience nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and appetite loss. The patient will experience a general abdominal discomfort. The condition of stomach cancer is very painful. The additional treatment procedures like radiotherapy cause severe side effects that are known to enhance the pain during the treatment procedure.


How Do You Check Yourself for Stomach Cancer?

You can check yourself for stomach cancer by performing blood tests to detect the condition of anemia. A culture test of the feces can also help identify the stomach cancer because patients with this condition will have bleeding from the stomach. If the fecal test is seen with blood, it could be an indication of the complication.


Can Blood Tests Identify Stomach Cancer?

Blood tests alone cannot be used to diagnose stomach cancer. If the patient is suffering from severe internal bleeding due to stomach cancer, it might result in low hemoglobin levels. So, low levels of hemoglobin (anemia) with other cancer symptoms are suggestive of stomach cancer, but you will need additional imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis.


How Rapidly Does Stomach Cancer Grow?

The growth of cancer begins on the innermost lining of the stomach. They are known to develop into a tumor. The rate of growth of stomach cancer is progressively slow. It might even take years to develop. Proper staging of the growth of cancer will help in formulating a good treatment plan.


What Happens if the Stomach Cancer Is Left Untreated?

If stomach cancer is not treated, then it can lead to cancer spreading to other parts such as bones, lymph nodes, and the lungs. Spreading to several organs is a severe complication. It is necessary to get treated for stomach cancer as soon as possible.


Can Urine Tests Identify Stomach Cancer?

Recent medical reports suggest that stomach cancer can be identified using urine tests. This will have a greater significance in treating stomach cancer at an earlier stage. You can ask your doctor to suggest the best way to diagnose stomach cancer.


Who Is at Risk for Stomach Cancer?

People who suffer from the following condition have an increased risk of stomach cancer. They are:
- Obesity.
- Long-term stomach inflammation (gastritis).
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables.
- A diet high in salts.
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori.
- Smoking.
- Family history of stomach cancer.
- Stomach polyps.


Can Stomach Cancer Be Cured if Detected Early?

Yes, it can be cured easily if it is detected early. If the doctor identifies cancer soon, it is possible to prevent the spreading of the infection. Earlier diagnosis is always a better way for ideal treatment options.


Can You Be Cured of Stomach Cancer?

In the majority of cases, stomach cancer cannot be cured completely. It is only possible to subside the symptoms caused by stomach cancer with the help of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. If the cancerous tissue can be removed completely, then there are chances for a better prognosis.


Is Stomach Cancer Usually Fatal?

Medical researchers suggest that patients who are suffering from stomach cancer have an approximate lifespan of five years. But, if it is detected only in the advanced stages, then stomach cancer becomes fatal.


How Long Does Chemotherapy Last for Stomach Cancer?

The chemotherapy for stomach cancer lasts for a few weeks. The doctor will advise for chemotherapy sessions in a particular cycle, followed by a resting period. This time is given for the recovery of the patient. Drugs like Folinic acid and Fluorouracil are recommended chemotherapy drugs for stomach cancer.


What Is the Most Effective Treatment Method for Stomach Cancer?

If stomach cancer is confined to one particular region, then a surgical option is recommended. The treatment will be planned depending on the stage of stomach cancer. Stomach cancer often requires a multidisciplinary approach with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.


What Happens in the Last Stage of Stomach Cancer?

The last stage of cancer is a life-threatening situation. In most of the patients, death is the result of the final stage. The patient will become more tired and fatigue. However, there are rare possibilities for the patient to live with the help of excellent treatment methods.


Can Chemotherapy Cure Stomach Cancer?

Chemotherapy is used in various ways to treat stomach cancer. Chemotherapy can be given before a surgical procedure. In this way, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms. However, side effects like anemia, change in appetite, infection, bleeding, and hair loss might be seen. So, chemotherapy would not be suitable for all patients.


What Foods Should Be Avoided When You Have Stomach Cancer?

The following foods must be avoided for stomach cancer:
- Non-vegetarian diet: Meat and Fish will increase the risk of cancer.
- Soda and beverages.
- Junk foods.
- Pickled and smoked foods.
- Salty foods should also be restricted.
- Candies and pastries.


How Does One Get Stomach Cancer?

An individual can get stomach cancer due to the following conditions:
- Genetic changes.
- Helicobacter Pylori infection.
- Chronic stress.
- Presence of cancer in other organs.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Jena Pratap Chandra
Dr. Jena Pratap Chandra

Family Physician


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