- Pain & Survival Rates
- Causes and Risk Factors
- Signs & Symptoms
- 5 Stages
- 5 Treatment Options
Things to know about stomach cancer pain and survival rates
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, develops in the lining of the stomach. Stomach cancer tends to develop slowly over many years. Recovery from stomach cancer is better if diagnosed and treated in the early stages.
The average 5-year survival rate:
- is about 68 percent for a person who receives treatment before cancer spreads.
- reduces by 31 percent if the cancer spreaders or metastasizes into deeper tissues of the stomach.
- drops to 5 percent if cancer has spread to distant organs.
The early stages rarely cause symptoms so are often undetected. Some common symptoms experienced in stomach cancer are abdominal (stomach) pain, heartburn, nausea, loss of appetite, and indigestion. The pain associated with stomach cancer is usually persistent and "gnawing;” it can worsen over time. A classic stomach cancer pain is felt as a dull ache in the middle of the stomach. The pain may have certain aggravating and relieving factors. Cold foods, such as iced drinks or ice cream, may offer temporary respite from the pain. In some patients, the pain may be constant.
What are the causes and risk factors of stomach cancer?
The exact cause of stomach cancer is not known. Stomach cancer begins when genetic mutations or changes in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) occur in the stomach cells. These changes in DNA cause the normal healthy cells to become cancerous and grow out of control, forming a tumor that invades and destroys healthy tissue.
Risk factors of stomach cancer:
Factors that can increase the risk of stomach cancer include:
- Infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which causes ulcers (accounts for more than 60 percent of stomach cancer cases)
- Chronic gastritis (stomach inflammation) due to any cause
- Stomach surgery for an ulcer
- Pernicious anemia
- Intestinal metaplasia (stomach lining is replaced with intestine lining)
- Stomach polyps
- Tumors in other parts of the digestive system
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Genetic syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis, Lynch syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Type A blood
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Diet high in salted, processed, pickled, or smoked foods
- Diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Eating food, which is not prepared or stored properly
- Lack of exercise
- Adults over 50 years of age
- Male gender
- Working in coal, metal, timber, or rubber industries
- Exposure to asbestos
What are the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer?
Early signs and symptoms include:
- Constant belching
- Gnawing or sharp abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach discomfort
- Feeling bloated after meals
- Pain in the breastbone
- Trapped wind
Later stage signs and symptoms include:
- Worsening stomach pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
- Blood in the stool
- Ascites (fluid build-up in abdomen)
5 Stages of stomach cancer
Stomach cancer is staged based on the growth of cancer within the stomach and other parts of the body:
- Stage 0: Abnormal cancer cells are found in the mucosa (inner lining) of the stomach wall.
- Stage I: Tumor is found in situ (within the stomach) and cancer cells may have spread to one or two lymph nodes.
- Stage II: Spread of cancer to deeper layers of the stomach and nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage III: Spread of cancer to all layers of the stomach, more lymph nodes, and nearby organs, such as the spleen, pancreas, adrenal gland, abdomen wall, small intestine, colon, abdomen wall, diaphragm, or kidney.
- Stage IV: Spread of cancer to other parts of the body (metastasize), such as the lungs, bones, liver, lining of the abdomen, and distant lymph nodes. A cure is rarely possible at this stage.
How is stomach cancer treated?
Treatment for stomach cancer depends on several factors, including the site of the tumor, the extent to which the cancer has spread, and the patient’s health and preferences.
5 Treatments options include:
- Surgery: The tumor and healthy tissues around it are removed surgically to ensure that no cancer cells remain. Types of surgeries include:
- Endoscopic mucosal resection: Endoscopy is used to remove tiny tumors in early-stage cancer.
- Subtotal gastrectomy: Part of the stomach is removed.
- Total gastrectomy: The whole stomach is removed.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses cytotoxic medicines to stop cancer cells from dividing and multiplying. Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the tumor before surgery or kill the remaining cancer cells after surgery.
- Radiation therapy: Radioactive rays are used to target and kill cancerous cells. It may be used along with chemotherapy.
- Targeted medications: Targeted medications are administered through intravenous (IV) infusion to attack specific proteins produced by cancer cells. The medicines are:
- Herceptin (trastuzumab) targets the HER2 protein that promotes cell growth.
- Cyramza (ramucirumab) blocks VEGF protein to prevent the production of new blood vessels needed by tumors to grow.
- Immunotherapy: This treatment encourages the body’s immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells.
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Cabebe EC. Gastric Cancer. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/278744-overview
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What Are the Early Warning Signs of Stomach Cancer?Stomach cancer, in its early stages, rarely shows any warning signs or symptoms. Due to its gradual and seemingly silent progress, stomach cancer is usually hard to detect in its early stages. Signs and symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, belly pain and others.
What Are the Symptoms of a Tumor in the Abdomen?An abdominal mass related to a stomach tumor is most often found during a routine physical exam. Symptoms of a tumor in the abdomen may include indigestion and stomach discomfort, bloating after eating, nausea, loss of appetite and heartburn.
What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Cancer in a Woman?Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is a cancer that develops from the lining of the stomach. Stomach cancer tends to develop slowly over many years. Early stages rarely cause symptoms, so they are often undetected. Symptoms of stomach cancer in women are the same as those in men.
What Is the Main Cause of Stomach Cancer?Factors that cause stomach cancer are unknown. It is known that stomach cancer is a result of changes (mutations) in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of the stomach cells. These mutations cause the cells to undergo uncontrolled division and result in the formation of abnormal cells.