Stomach (Gastric) Cancer
Stomach cancer is a gastrointestinal cancer that develops in the stomach. It used to be one of the more prevalent cancers diagnosed in the United States, but those rates have declined over recent years. There are many factors that can put you at risk for developing stomach cancer, and these include advanced age, obesity, smoking, and consuming an excess of pickled foods or foods high in sodium. Genetics may also play a role, and a history of certain medical conditions such as an h pylori infection, Epstein-Barr, and pernicious anemia can also increase your risk.
The symptoms of stomach cancer can be subtle or even non-existent. For this reason, individuals with increased risk factors should talk to their doctor about stomach cancer. When symptoms are present, they commonly include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, feeling full after eating a small amount, persistent heartburn, and unexplained weight loss.
After a physical examination, your doctor will likely order an upper endoscopy if stomach cancer is suspected. An upper endoscopy is a test where a doctor will insert a small tube with a camera attached to it down the throat and into the stomach. If signs of cancer are present, the doctor will take a small amount of tissue (called a biopsy), and it will be tested for cancer. Other tests may include imaging tests such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans.
Once identified, stomach cancer is treated most commonly using radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery. The stage of the cancer is one factor that your team of practitioners will consider when they devise a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Stomach cancer can be treatable, especially if it is found in the early stages before it spreads to other parts of the body. After it is found elsewhere, the rates of survival drop. That is why it is important to identify if you have the factors that are associated with an increased risk of developing stomach cancer and talk to your doctor about screening for the disease.