Stomach Cancer: Prevention and Cure
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Stomach cancer is cancer that starts in the stomach. Several types of cancer can occur in the stomach. The most common type is called adenocarcinoma. It starts from one of the common cell types found in the lining of the stomach. Adenocarcinoma is a common cancer of the digestive tract. It is not common in the United States. But it is common in eastern Asia, parts of South America, and eastern and central Europe. It occurs most often in men over age 40. The number of people in the United States who develop this cancer has decreased over the years. Experts think this decrease may be in part because people are eating less salted, cured, and smoked foods.
Likelihood of getting cancer:You are more likely to get diagnosed with gastric cancer if you:
* Have a diet low in fruits and vegetables
* Have a family history of gastric cancer
* Have an infection of the stomach by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori
* Had a polyp larger than 2 centimetres in your stomach
* Have inflammation and swelling of the stomach for a long time (chronic atrophic gastritis)
* Have pernicious anemia
* History of Active and Passive Smoking
Symptoms of stomach cancer may include any of the following:
* Abdominal fullness or pain, which may occur after a small meal
* Dark stools
* Difficulty swallowing, which becomes worse over time
* Excessive belching
* General decline in health
* Loss of appetite
* Vomiting blood
* Weakness or fatigue
* Weight loss
Exams and Tests:
Diagnosis is often delayed because symptoms may not occur in the early stages of the disease. Or, patients may self-treat symptoms that gastric cancer has in common with other, less serious disorders (such as bloating, gas, heartburn, and fullness).
Tests that can help diagnose gastric cancer include:
* Complete blood count (CBC) to check for anemia.
* Oesophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) with biopsy to examine the stomach tissue. EGD involves putting a tiny camera down the oesophagus (food tube) to look at the inside of the stomach.
* Stool test to check for blood in the stools.
Surgery to remove the stomach (gastrectomy) is the only treatment that can cure adenocarcinoma of the stomach. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may help. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy after surgery may improve the chance of a cure.
For persons who cannot have surgery, chemotherapy or radiation may improve symptoms and may prolong survival, but will likely not cure the cancer. For some patients, a surgical bypass procedure may relieve symptoms.
Screening programmes are successful in detecting disease in the early stages in parts of the world where the risk of stomach cancer is much higher than in the United States. The value of screening in the United States and other countries with lower rates of stomach cancer is not clear.
The following may help reduce your risk of stomach cancer:
* Do not smoke.
* Eat healthy foods rich in fruits and vegetables.
* Take medicines to treat reflux disease (heartburn), if you have it.
* Take antibiotics if you are diagnosed with H. pylori infection