Stomach cancer is a serious disease that is especially dangerous to its late time of diagnosis. It is cancer of the stomach's lining which affects slightly more men. Stomach cancer is the fourth leading cause of death by cancer in Europe. The greatest incidence of gastric cancer is recorded in Japan what is associated primarily with consumption of raw fish.
Cancer is a disease caused by malignant tumour. Malignant tumour arises as a result of changes in the genetic information of cell. This cell begins to uncontrollably multiply and grow. Its fate is already independent of the organism. Such tumour grows quickly, and penetrates aggressively into its surroundings which disrupts and impairs function of stomach. For malignant tumour is also typical creation of metastases, i.e. secondary tumour nodes in different distances from the main carcinoma.
Development of stomach cancer
As mentioned earlier cancer develops due to errors in the genetic material of cell that begins to multiply and grow independently of the surrounding. However, this is multistep process involving a number of factors. It is known that the occurrence of gastric cancer is related to bacteria, genetic predisposition, environmental factors and the immune system. It is assumed that the key role in development of gastric cancer has bacteria Helicobacter pylori. These bacteria live in the stomach which presence causes inflammation of the stomach and destroys the cells of gastric mucosa. The genetic make-up of host and bacteria plays the main role in development of stomach cancer.
Symptoms of stomach cancer
Symptoms of stomach cancer are not significant in their infancy and so cancer is not usually discovered in the early stages. If so, it is mostly a random finding. Such tumour is called early gastric carcinoma which is well treatable. Late gastric cancer has already significant clinical symptoms that lead patients to visit the doctor. It is a loss of appetite followed by weight loss, pain in the upper abdomen, fatigue, weakness. In worse cases may occur vomiting of blood or blood in the stool that is black-colored, i.e. melena.
Diagnosis of stomach cancer
To make diagnosis of gastric cancer in the beginning of disease is not so simple, since there are not usually present any significant symptoms that would have led the patient to visit a doctor. Unfortunately, patients come more often in the late stage of disease which has a poor prognosis. Basic diagnostic method of gastric cancer is gastroscopy. It is the endoscopic examination when through the mouth is inserted hose-type device with camera to stomach and the doctor has visual view of the changes in structure of organ. At this examination, it is also possible to acquire tissue samples for histological examination or stop possible bleeding. As a complementary method we can choose ultrasound, x-ray or CT. If the disease is diagnosed at late stage, we can detect the node of tumour including any metastases by PET, namely positron emission tomography. This method is used to detect areas of increased metabolism which in the case of tumours and metastases are present.
Treatment for stomach cancer
Treatment of gastric cancer is very demanding for the both patient and doctor as this disease is usually diagnosed at the late stage. There are three options of treatment for stomach cancer, i.e. surgical treatment, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, use of their combination is very often.
Surgical treatment of stomach cancer
The only possible treatment for stomach cancer is surgery. However, this method is significant only in the early stages of cancer. If the tumour is not large, surgery is performed wherein a portion of the stomach with tumour is removed. If the cancer is large-scaled, it is possible to remove the entire stomach. It is also necessary to remove the lymph nodes in the area of stomach and send them for histological examination. According to the extent of disease we choose the follow-up treatment. At late stages is performed only palliative surgery, i.e. intervention that alleviates suffering. It focuses on preserving the natural passage, thus the unimpaired pass of food through digestive tract.
Chemotherapy in the treatment of stomach cancer
Chemotherapy uses for the treatment chemical substances which are able to stop the growth and proliferation of tumour cells and thereby to destroy them as well. These drugs are called cytostatics and are injected into the patient through vein that distributes the drug throughout body. The disadvantage is that the cytostatics kill healthy cells.
Radiotherapy in the treatment of stomach cancer
Radiotherapy is radiation therapy which uses ionizing radiation. Within the palliative treatment of stomach cancer is radiotherapy used only marginally, i.e. treatment which only relieves the suffering of terminally ill patient. In this type of therapy, high-energy rays are aimed at the tumour and rays destroy tumour cells. However, the disadvantage is that the rays kill also healthy cells.
Prognosis of stomach cancer
Stomach cancer is curable by surgery only if the diagnosis was done at early stage. In other cases, namely the late stages with metastases, it is a fatal disease in which the only small percentage of patients survive one year. Therefore, it is important to not underestimate any discomfort in the upper abdomen and if you are worried it is wise to see the doctor.
Prevention of stomach cancer
Prevention in the true sense of the word does not exist. In a measure to reduce the risk of stomach cancer is eradication of Helicobacter pylori, and to heal stomach inflammation and gastric ulcers in time. It is also recommended to exclude smoked food from the diet, limit consumption of alcohol and smoking.