Stomach cancer: symptoms and treatment

Stomach cancer is no longer very common in the Western world. However, in developing countries it is still a common cause of cancer death. Smoking and salting foods and getting a helicobacter pylori infection probably play a major role in this. People with pernicious anemia, who therefore develop a vitamin B12 deficiency, are at extra risk of developing stomach cancer. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption also increase the risk.

Stomach cancer

In the Western world, stomach cancer is much less common than at the beginning of the century. It is thought that this is because in the past food was salted and smoked to prevent spoilage, but now such foods are frozen or simply kept cool. In addition, the number of Heliobacter pylori infections has decreased due to better hygiene and better socio-economic conditions.

About 95% of all forms of stomach cancer arise in the glandular tissues that line the stomach. This form of cancer is called adenocarcinoma. In underdeveloped countries, stomach cancer is the leading form of cancer that kills people. In these types of countries, food is often still smoked and salted and the Heliobacter pylori bacteria are still common.

Symptoms and complaints of stomach cancer

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Blood in vomit or stool

Risk factors for stomach cancer

  • Smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Present in the family
  • Heliobacter pylori bacteria
  • Small benign growths in the stomach lining
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency, which causes damage to the stomach lining

Diagnosis of stomach cancer

  • Endoscopic examination (internal ultrasound examination)
  • CT-scan

These drugs can be used to determine how far into the stomach wall the cancer is and whether it has spread into surrounding tissues.

Stomach cancer treatment

  • Operative
  • Chemotherapy
  • Irradiation

Which method of treatment will be applied depends on the overall state of health, the stage of the disease, the location of the cancer. Surgery can cure stomach cancer, if only the stomach wall and/or adjacent lymph nodes are affected by the tumor. If the cancer is already at an advanced stage, surgery may also be useful to reduce complaints such as vomiting and blood loss. Chemotherapy and radiation can shrink the tumor, reducing symptoms and prolonging life. Sometimes this treatment is also used after surgery to delay or prevent the tumor from returning.

Stomach cancer is curable if detected early. If the cancer is already in an advanced stage, the prospects are not good.