In this article, you’ll get everything you need to know about Gastric cancer.
Gastric cancer is the result of the abnormal growth of the cells lining the stomach. The stomach is part of the digestive system. It is the continuation of the esophagus, where most of the digestion takes place after we eat something. Generally, it is a highly resistant organ. Its glands secrete hydrochloric acid, a highly acidic chemical compound, which helps and eases the digestive process. Apart from that, it helps in the elimination of various bacteria and viruses. The stomach also secretes mucus and different enzymes. When the cells lining the stomach start growing without control, they turn into malignant ones, causing gastric cancer.
What are the risk factors for gastric cancer?
Several conditions favor the development of gastric cancer. The most well-established ones are infection with H. pylori bacterium, obesity, alcohol consumption, red meat ingestions, and smoking. However, a low socioeconomic status could also put an individual at high risk. People with a family history of stomach cancer have more chances than those without genetic tendencies. Ultimately, Asians, South Americans, and those this Belarusian descent have more possibilities to present with gastric cancer.
- Infection with H. pylori
H.pylori is a bacterium that can infect the stomach of a person. It is a common infection that usually leads to the development of gastric ulcers. Gastric ulcers are small cuts that appear on the inside of the stomach. If left untreated, they can lead to bleeding or even perforation of the stomach. Some people with chronic and untreated H. pylori infections may develop gastric cancer. Hopefully, it is a treatable infection that subsides with medication. The goal of the treatment is the eradication of the bacterium.
Obesity can increase your risk of gastric cancer. Doctors link obesity with various conditions and many other types of cancer. Generally speaking, obese people should try and decrease their BMI. They can do so by adopting a healthy diet and exercising regularly, at least twice per week. Consultation with a medical professional or a personal trainer might be necessary.
- Alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption increases your chances of developing gastric cancer, even at moderate amounts. The recommended amounts of alcohol consumption per day shouldn’t overcome a glass for women and two for men. To decrease the amount you drink per day, you can try and adapt to regular exercise, or get help from a professional.
- Red meat
A diet rich in red meat, such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver, increases the risk of gastric cancer. The same stands for high amounts of fats too. Try and increase the quantities of fruits and vegetables every day. If you combine a healthy diet with regular exercise, you will significantly decrease your chances of gastric cancer.
Smoking increases your chances of developing gastric cancer. If you smoke, you have double the risk of getting cancer in your stomach, when compared to non-smokers. Tobacco smoking particularly favors the development of malignancy in the upper portion of the stomach. However, this particular habit is harmful to your overall health and wellness, as it negatively affects many of your organs.
What are the symptoms of gastric cancer?
Stomach cancer is not common, but it’s not easy to diagnose either. It develops over time, forming a tumor that is usually hard to notice. People with gastric cancer frequently lack early symptoms, and they realize it after an advanced stage. When symptoms occur, they might be some of the following:
- unexplained weight loss
- loss of appetite
- the feeling of fullness after eating a small portion of food
- blood in the stools
- pain in the epigastric area (stomach pain which worsens after eating)
How to treat gastric cancer?
You can treat gastric cancer with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of them. The treatment plan depends on the stage of your disease. Also, some other factors play an essential role, such as your age and your current health status. Finally, one of the main goals of the treatment is to prevent metastasis. The most common sites of disease spreading are the lungs.
How to prevent gastric cancer?
You cannot exclusively prevent gastric cancer. All you can do is decrease your risk of developing one. You manage that by doing some of the following:
- avoid or correct obesity by trying to maintain a healthy weight
- adopt a healthy diet
- exercise more
- stop smoking
In some countries, with a high prevalence of gastric cancer, people undergo regular screening. Therefore, if you have a strong family history of stomach cancer, or if you have many risk factors for it, you can talk with your doctor and schedule some screening sessions. Such procedures may include a clinical exam, together with imaging tests and blood exams. Occasionally, genetic tests are necessary too.