Everything You Need to Know About Gastric Cancer
Thousands of people in the U.S. are diagnosed with gastric cancer every year. The American Cancer Society says this disease accounts for around 1.5 percent of all new cancers diagnosed each year. Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, can impact any part of the stomach. It’s most likely to affect the area where the esophagus meets the stomach. Find out how gastric cancer attacks the body by searching online.
It’s important to be aware of the risk factors for this cancer because people might not experience symptoms until they reach later stages. Start an online search to find out what symptoms and risk factors to be aware of.
Here’s everything you need to know about gastric cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
It can be difficult for patients to receive an early diagnosis of gastric cancer because symptoms don’t start showing until it reaches later stages. This means that people living with early stage cancer might not even know they have it.
According to Healthline, common symptoms of advanced stomach cancer include:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Frequent heartburn;
- Loss of appetite;
- Constant bloating;
- Feeling full after small amounts of food;
- Bloody stools;
- Excessive fatigue, and;
- Stomach pain.
Since there aren’t any early signs or symptoms of gastric cancer, it can be helpful to know whether you fall under any of the risk factors.
Older Americans are more likely to be diagnosed. Around six out of 10 people with gastric cancer are over the age of 65, with the average age of people diagnosed being 68. The American Cancer Society also says the chances of developing stomach cancer is higher in men.
According to Mayo Clinic, there are several other factors that can increase your risk. This includes:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease;
- A diet high in salty and smoked foods;
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables;
- Family history of stomach cancer;
- Helicobacter pylori infection;
- Smoking, and;
- Stomach polyps.
Unfortunately stomach cancer only has a five-year survival rate of 32 percent. Cancer.net says this is because many patients are diagnosed after the disease has already spread to other parts of the body.
Diagnosing Gastric Cancer
Doctors will consider a patient’s symptoms, risk factors and health history when diagnosing stomach cancer. A blood test may also be ordered to see there is a low red blood cell count, which can be caused by cancer bleeding into the stomach. Afterwards, you will probably get referred to a gastroenterologist, who specialize in disease of the digestive tract.
Some methods of diagnosing gastric cancer include:
- Upper endoscopy;
- Imaging tests;
- X-ray of the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine;
- CT or CAT scan
- Endoscopic ultrasound;
- PET scan;
- MRI, and;
- Chest x-ray.
Treatments for Gastric Cancer
Once a patient is diagnosed, the doctors can begin a plan to treat the cancer. The doctor labels the patient’s condition with a stage. This tells them the extent of the cancer and will play a role in the patient’s treatment.
There are five stages of gastric cancer: stage 0 to stage 5. The more the cancer has progressed, the higher the stage. When the cancer has grown into other parts of the body, it is at least stage 3. A treatment plan will be decided based on the patient’s stage, symptoms, location of the tumor, and overall health.
Surgery is a treatment for early stage cancer depending on the location. Since most stomach cancer patients don’t receive a diagnosis until it’s most progressed, chemo and radiation therapy is usually the first method of treatment. The goal is to either shrink the cancer enough to make surgery an option or to control the cancer growth and relieve symptoms.
Other treatment options for advanced stomach cancer include targeted drug therapy or immunotherapy. It’s also possible that a combination of these methods will be used to treat a patient.
If the cancer can’t be completely removed, the goal of treatment would be to make them more comfortable living with the condition.
Learn More About Gastric Cancer Online
Gastric cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths around the world. Most cases are not diagnosed until the advanced stages. This is why it’s important to understand the risk factors and symptoms related to the disease.
You can learn more about stomach cancer by searching online. There are plenty of online resources that can also connect you to cancer support groups or therapy.