Stomach cancer originates when mutations trigger rapid growth and division in cancerous cells. This cancer can emerge in any stomach area and potentially spread to various organs, including the liver, pancreas, intestines, lungs, ovaries, and lymph nodes.

Risk Factors Influencing Stomach Cancer

While the precise origins of stomach cancer remain unclear, several factors are known to elevate the risk, including:

  • Age: The likelihood of developing stomach cancer increases with age.
  • Gender: Men are more than twice as likely to develop stomach cancer compared to women.
  • Family History: A family history of stomach cancer heightens the risk.
  • Geographical Prevalence: Stomach cancer is more prevalent in Asia than in Europe and the United States.
  • Dietary Influences: Consumption of pickled, salted, and smoked foods may heighten the risk, whereas fruits and vegetables can reduce it.
  • Infection with Helicobacter pylori: This bacterium, known for causing peptic ulcers and inflammation, may contribute to a higher stomach cancer risk.
  • Pre-existing Medical Conditions: Prior stomach surgeries or chronic conditions like anemia and ongoing stomach inflammation can increase risk.
  • Occupational Hazards: Exposure to certain chemicals and dust has been linked to a higher incidence of stomach cancer.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are risk factors.
  • Obesity: Evidence suggests an increased risk in overweight men, though no clear correlation exists for women.

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

In its early stages, stomach cancer typically presents no noticeable symptoms. Advanced stages, however, may manifest symptoms similar to peptic ulcers or viral gastroenteritis:

  • Upper and middle abdominal discomfort
  • Blood in stools or vomiting blood
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or bloating post-meal
  • Fatigue

It's advisable to seek immediate medical advice if experiencing symptoms like indigestion, abdominal discomfort or bloating after eating, mild nausea, loss of appetite, or heartburn.

Diagnosing Stomach Cancer

Diagnosis involves a review of the patient's history and a physical examination. Diagnostic procedures may include:

  • Barium Swallow Test: Ingestion of a barium-water mixture coats the digestive tract, aiding in tumour detection via X-rays.
  • Upper GI Endoscopy: This allows examination of the stomach lining and tissue sample collection for analysis.
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound: Assesses the extent of cancer spread to nearby organs.
  • Lung X-ray: Checks for lung abnormalities and cancer spread.
  • CT Scan: Offers detailed three-dimensional images of internal organs, aiding in assessing the cancer's location and spread.

Stomach Cancer Treatment Approaches

Treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving surgeons, radiologists, and oncologists. Treatment plans are tailored based on:

  • The cancer's size, location, and appearance
  • Stage and extent of spread
  • Overall health of the patient

Treatment Options

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Endoscopic treatments