Stomach Cancer

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Stomach cancer facts*

*Stomach cancer facts medical author: Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

  • The stomach is a hollow organ that liquefies food and is part of the digestive system.
  • Cancer is the growth of abnormal (malignant) body cells: stomach cancer cells spread by breaking away from other cancer cells and go into the bloodstream or lymphatics while others penetrate into organs near the stomach.
  • Although the cause of stomach cancer development is not known, risk factors include inflammation of the stomach, Helicobacter Pylori infection, smoking, poor diet, obesity, lack of physical activity, and the history of stomach cancer in the family.
  • The symptoms of stomach cancer may include discomfort and/or pain in the stomach, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, difficulty swallowing, vomiting blood, blood in the stool, and feeling full or bloated after a small meal.
  • Stomach cancer is diagnosed by a physical exam, medical history, endoscopy, and biopsy of the tissue.
  • Stomach cancer is staged according to where the cancers found and how far it has invaded the stomach tissue, or if it has spread beyond the stomach and into other organs (stages 0 to IV).
  • The treatment of stomach cancer depends on the size and location of the tumor, the stage of the disease and the patient's general health.
  • Surgery is done to remove cancer tissue; in general, two procedures are common: partial (subtotal) gastrectomy and total gastrectomy.
  • Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells: it may be used before or after surgery.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells: it is used frequently along with chemotherapy.
  • Many doctors recommend getting a second opinion before starting treatment: this article provides contact phone numbers to several institutions that can help find a doctor to give a second opinion.
  • Good nutrition after stomach surgery may require supplements like vitamins and minerals, plus changing your eating habits.
  • Surgery, a stent placement, radiation therapy, and laser therapy are treatment options for cancers that block the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Tests to rule out recurrence of cancer; complementary and alternative medicine should be discussed with you doctor.
  • There are support groups for cancer patients; contact information is listed.
  • Contact information for joining clinical trials is also included in this article.
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