What is Stomach Cancer?
What is Stomach Cancer? Stomach cancer is a type of cancer that gnaws the stomach, the digestive organs in the form of a pouch in the middle of the human abdominal cavity. This disease can be affected by people of all ages, although most sufferers are 55 and older.
The most common type of gastric cancer is adenocarcinoma, a condition when cancer invades cells in the inner lining of the stomach that produce fluids such as mucus (mucus). In addition to adenocarcinoma, there are also several other types of gastric cancer, although rarely found in people with this disease. Among these types:
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), a cancer that attacks the connective tissue or abdominal wall muscles.
- Gastric lymphoma, a cancer that attacks lymphatic tissue or tissues that help fight infection.
- Carcinoid, a cancer that attacks hormone-producing cells in the stomach.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
Here are some symptoms that can be felt by stomach cancer patients in the early stages:
- Bloated and often burp
- The stomach feels heartburn or pain
- Pain in the sternum
- Fast to eat
- Difficult to swallow food
- Digestive disorders are often recurrent
- Feel tired.
Some symptoms of gastric cancer at a more severe stage are:
- Vomiting blood
- Missing appetite
- The stool is black or there is blood in the stool
- Body feels tired
- Weight loss
- Swelling of the abdomen due to fluid accumulation
Symptoms of gastric cancer in the early stages are usually difficult to recognize because it is almost the same as other gastric problems, such as gastric ulcers. Because it requires a doctor’s examination to confirm the diagnosis. Immediately check yourself if you feel the symptoms above.
The cause of stomach cancer
The cause of stomach cancer is still not known for certain. But in general, cancer occurs when cells in certain parts of the stomach develop uncontrollably. Due to this excessive growth, cells that had normal properties to help the body function properly, it becomes accumulated into a tumor. If left untreated, the tumor may spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system.
Some factors that can increase a person’s risk of stomach cancer are:
- Smoke. The harmful substances contained in cigarette smoke can be inhaled and can damage cells in the stomach wall. Therefore a smoker will have twice the risk of stomach cancer compared to those who do not smoke.
- Food. Too much consumption of bacon, salt, salted fish, pickles, and foods containing aflatoxin (toxins from the fungus). This condition is exacerbated by the lack of eating fruits and vegetables.
- 55 years and older and male. The risk of stomach cancer in men twice as much as women.
- Pylori bacterial infection. These bacteria are the causes of gastric diseases such as digestive disorders, peptic ulcers, and inflammation in the lining of the stomach.
- Have a stomach infection for a long time.
- Suffered from pernicious anemia. This condition occurs when a person is deficient in vitamin B12.
- Suffers conditions leading to the appearance of polyps in the stomach.
- Has a close relative of gastric cancer.
- Ever had surgery on the stomach.
- Suffer other types of cancer. Patients with lymphoma cancer or white blood cell cancer, esophageal cancer or esophageal cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer have a higher risk of stomach cancer.
Stages of development of stomach cancer
There are four stages that determine the severity of gastric cancer, including:
- Stage 1. Cancer is in the tissue inside the stomach and spreads to the surrounding lymph nodes.
- Stage 2. Cancer grows in the muscle layer of the stomach wall and spreads more to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3. The entire lining of the stomach has been gnawed by cancer or much of the growth of small cancers that spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 4. The spread of stomach cancer at this stage is getting worse and reaching distant organs.
Determination of the severity of gastric cancer can be done through a diagnosis. This is useful in helping doctors to provide appropriate treatment.
Diagnosis of Stomach Cancer
To find out if a patient has stomach cancer, the doctor will first ask for the symptoms he feels. In addition, the doctor will also ask if the patient is suffering from a certain condition that can increase the risk of stomach cancer or whether he has a close family of colon cancer patients.
After the patient’s explanation is obtained, the doctor can perform a simple examination by checking the patient’s abdomen to see any swelling around the stomach.
To ascertain whether a person has gastric cancer, the doctor will perform further tests, such as:
- Examination of feces for the presence of blood.
- Blood test.
- Endoscopy. This check is done by inserting a small special tool such as a tube into the stomach through the esophagus. Tools equipped with this camera can help doctors see the presence of cancer. Through endoscopic examination, doctors can also take a sample of gastric tissue (biopsy) for later investigation in the laboratory.
- X-ray. In the case of stomach cancer, X-ray examination will be combined with a liquid containing barium substances. Substances that must be swallowed by this patient will help X-rays produce images on the monitor. For 6 hours before performing this inspection procedure, patients are not allowed to consume food or drink, and the examination usually lasts 15 minutes. The side effects patients may experience after this examination are nausea and constipation.
- CT scan. This examination can help the doctor know how far the development of cancer, whether the cancer is only in the stomach or has spread to other organs. Scanning using this X-ray circuit and computer help can produce detailed body images.
- Laparoscopic surgery. This inspection procedure is performed by inserting a camera device called a laparoscope through a small incision made by the doctor in the lower abdomen. Surely in this procedure the patient should be drugged first. Laparoscopic surgery aims to see the state of the stomach in more detail. Through this examination, doctors can tell if stomach cancer has spread, especially to the peritoneum or lining of the abdominal cavity.
- Ultrasound. Examination by using ultrasound waves is intended to see whether stomach cancer has invaded the liver.
Treatment of Stomach Cancer
The method of treatment used in gastric cancer cases depends on the severity of the disease and the general health condition of the patient. It is estimated that about 20 to 30 percent of gastric cancer patients can be treated until healed. The following are the three main types of treatment in cases of colon cancer.
The purpose of radiotherapy is to kill cancer cells. In radiotherapy, treatment method is done by using radiant energy emitted. Usually the method of radiotherapy is applied to high-grade stomach cancer cases with bleeding symptoms.
Before surgery, radiotherapy can be done to minimize the size of the stomach tumor so it is more easily removed. While radiotherapy is done after it aims to kill cancer cells that may still be left, while preventing cancer from developing again.
Even so, there are some side effects from the use of radiotherapy that also must be considered, including:
- Irritation or blackish color of the skin around the treated area.
Radiotherapy should be done regularly every week. Within a week, there are usually five treatment sessions over five days and each session lasts for several minutes. The time limit of radiotherapy treatment depends on the purpose and severity. For example, to relieve symptoms in high-stomach cancer cases generally last up to two weeks. Meanwhile, to prevent cancer coming back, generally lasts up to five weeks.
Chemotherapy is a treatment to kill cancer cells through the administration of a number of drugs. An example is the cytotoxic drug (cytotoxic) that can stop the spread of cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs may be tablets, infusions, or a combination of both.
In stomach cancer, chemotherapy performed before surgery usually aims to shrink the tumor. While chemotherapy after surgery aims to prevent cancer recurrence. For advanced stages of non-operative stomach cancer, chemotherapy can help inhibit cancer progression and relieve symptoms.
Just like radiotherapy, the timing of chemotherapy is divided into several sessions. Some only last for three weeks or months with a constant dose of a given dose.
Some of the side effects of chemotherapy are:
- Changes to the skin, such as redness, swelling, and tingling in the palms of the hands or feet.
- The body feels tired.
- Weight loss.
- Hair loss.
- Nerve damage.
Usually these side effects will disappear after chemotherapy treatment ends. The side effects of chemotherapy in each stomach cancer patient may vary depending on the patient’s own reaction to the treatment, the number of treatment sessions performed, and the type of chemotherapy drugs given.
Provision of Drugs with Specific Targets.
Treatment therapy is intended to eliminate certain abnormalities in cancer cells. Some examples of drugs that are usually used are:
- Imatinib, Sunitinib, and Regorafenib to treat stomach cancer called gastrointestinal stomal tumor (gastrointestinal stomal tumor).
- Trastuzumab to kill stomach cancer cells that produce too much HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2).
- Ramucirumab for treating advanced stomach cancer that does not react to other treatments.
The type of gastric cancer treatment performed depends on the severity of cancer spread itself. For example, if the diagnosed cancer is still in its early stages and develops in the gastric wall, then a procedure called endoscopic resection may be performed.
Through this procedure doctors do not need to dissect the patient and simply insert the endoscope into the stomach through the mouth and throat. With a special device equipped with this camera, doctors can remove the cancer from the lining of the stomach and leaving a healthy network.
The surgical procedure still included in the treatment of low stomach cancer is partial gastrectomy. However, in this procedure, the doctor will perform surgery on the patient’s abdomen to remove the stomach part of the infected cancer. Partial gastrectomy is generally performed if the cancer is still in the lower stomach and has not spread to the middle and top.
Further from partial gastrectomy is total gastrectomy. This procedure is performed if the cancer has spread to the middle and upper stomach. In this case the doctor will be forced to lift the entire patient’s stomach and directly connect the small intestine with the end of the esophagus channel.
Lifting of lymph nodes that allegedly has been undermined by cancer will also be done. This procedure is also useful to prevent cancer recurrence.
In addition, cancer can also spread more widely from the stomach until it is not possible to do surgery again. If this happens and the gastrointestinal tract becomes blocked, the doctor will offer several options, namely the installation of a hose that directly leads to the stomach, bypass surgery that connects the channel from the stomach to the small intestine, and partial or total gastrectomy to remove blockages and relieve symptoms.
Risk of surgery
Just like other stomach cancer treatment methods, surgery can also cause risk. Some of them are:
In the case of stomach cancer that can not be cured, treatment is usually only focused to make the patient as comfortable as possible by reducing the symptoms he felt.
Prevention of Stomach Cancer
In order to avoid stomach cancer, do some healthy steps below.
- Do not smoke.
- Apply a healthy diet, for example by eating fresh foods rich in fiber and vitamins. Avoid salty and processed foods.
- Maintain weight.
- If you are taking aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, talk to your doctor about the effects on the stomach.
Opportunities to recover stomach cancer patients
The chances of a cure for gastric cancer depend on several factors, such as the general health condition of the patient, the age of the patient, and what level of severity or extent of gastric cancer has spread when first diagnosed.
Because the symptoms of stomach cancer are almost the same as some other gastric problems, then most people do not realize until the stomach cancer is already at a high stage when diagnosed. According to the study, as many as fifteen percent of stomach cancer patients can still live at least five years into the future after diagnosis and about 11 percent of the diagnosed can still live at least ten years into the future.