When cells in any section of the stomach grow and proliferate abnormally, stomach cancer develops. Tumours can start anywhere in the stomach, although the majority of them start in the glandular tissue on the inner surface. Over the last half-century, the global incidence of gastric cancer has decreased dramatically. Nonetheless, being the fifth most frequent cancer and the third biggest cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, stomach cancer remains a global health issue. Gastric cancer rates are also lower in more economically developed countries than in less developed countries.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms
The indications and symptoms might be rather different from one person to the next. Stomach cancer is indeed slow-growing cancer that takes a year or more to develop. In the early stages, there are usually asymptomatic. A wide range of symptoms might emerge as the condition advances. Indigestion, which can be severe and prolonged, nausea, vomiting, early satiety, feeling bloated after eating, and intense, persistent heartburn are some of the symptoms. After stomach cancer has progressed to other parts of the body, the first indications or symptoms of the disease may appear. The exact symptoms will vary depending on where the cancer has progressed, but frequent ones include difficulty accepting any oral intake due to bowel obstruction, fractures, cognitive abnormalities, and abdominal edoema due to fluid buildup.
Types of stomach (gastric) cancers
- Adenocarcinomas: Adenocarcinomas make up the majority of stomach cancers. These cancers are caused by gland cells in the stomach’s inner layer.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors: These rare cancers begin in the very early stages of interstitial cells of Cajal, which are cells in the stomach wall. Some GISTs are far more prone than others to spread to other sections of the body or expand into other places. GISTs can begin anywhere in the digestive tract, although the majority begin in the stomach.
- Neuroendocrine tumors: Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) develop in cells in the stomach that operate in some ways like nerve cells and in others like hormone-producing (endocrine) cells. The majority of NETs develop slowly and do not move to other organs, however, others might grow quickly and spread.
- Lymphomas: Lymphocytes, which are immune system cells, are where these malignancies begin. Lymphomas usually start in other parts of the body, although some might start in the stomach wall.
- Sarcomas: Sarcomas are cancers of the connective tissue (muscle, fat, or blood vessels).
Squamous cell carcinomas, small cell carcinomas, and leiomyosarcomas are all malignancies that can start in the stomach, but they are extremely rare.
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Factors influencing the risk of stomach cancer
- Consuming a diet that is high in salted and smoked foods and lacking in fruits and vegetables.
- Smoking cigarettes
- Obesity or being overweight
- Prevalence of stomach cancer in the family
- Eating foods that have been improperly cooked or stored.
- Having a stomach infection caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, chronic gastritis, pernicious anaemia, intestinal metaplasia, familial adenomatous polyposis, or gastric polyps.
Diagnosing stomach cancer
To diagnose stomach cancer, a physical examination is performed to look for any anomalies. A doctor may use a stool test to check for blood as well as a blood test to check for anaemia to look for probable stomach bleeding. Diagnostic testing in the stomach and oesophagus seeks for suspected cancers and other abnormalities. These tests may involve the following:
- Endoscopy with biopsy
- Endoscopic ultrasonography
- CT or CAT scans
- MRI scans with PET (positron emission tomography) (magnetic resonance imaging)
- Endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract (also known as an EGD)
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Prognosis for stomach cancer patients
The stage of the disease determines the prognostic for stomach cancer. Those who are detected with stomach cancer early have a far better probability of surviving than someone who is diagnosed later:
- The five-year survival rate for stomach cancer that is detected early and excised with an endoscope is greater than 90%.
- The five-year survival rate is 28 % if the cancer is discovered after it has progressed to the stomach’s surrounding tissues.
- If cancer has gone outside the stomach’s surrounding areas, the five-year survival rate is only 4%.
Transforming the Prognosis for Stomach Cancer Patients by Immunotherapy
Every year, about one million people are diagnosed worldwide, with 780,000 deaths. In the United States alone, an estimated 26,000 individuals will be diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021, with around 11,000 deaths. This is a significant shift from the first predictions in 1975 when stomach cancer was perhaps the most frequent cancer. The causes of this drop are unknown, however, they could be associated with increased food storage via refrigeration.
Immunotherapy for stomach cancer, such as checkpoint inhibitors and targeted antibodies, offers patients with stomach (gastric) cancer exciting new treatment options. Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to help eliminate cancer cells. For stomach cancer, there are presently six FDA-approved immunotherapy treatments.
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Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy are the most common treatments for stomach cancer. Immunotherapy increases or strengthens your immune system’s ability to respond to cancer. Your specific treatment plan will be determined by cancer’s origin and stage. Age and general health can also have an impact.
Preventions to keep stomach cancer at bay
There seems to be no way to completely avoid stomach cancer. However, there are steps that can be taken to lower the risk of having the disease. The following are some of them:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Consuming a healthy diet
- Reducing your alcohol consumption
- Smoking cessation
- Regular physical activity