Stomach Cancer: Symptoms and Effective Treatment
Cancer can be dangerous if it starts growing out within the system, irrespective of the body part it affects. It is difficult to challenge this disease with minimal cures to eradicate cancer. However, as the technology towards healthcare and well-being is developing, effective treatments are coming up to defeat cancer. One of those cancers can be digestive system cancer, also known as stomach cancer.
What is digestive system cancer?
Digestive system cancer has many names in the healthcare fraternity, including gastric or stomach cancer. The primary cancer cell, in this case, usually grows out in the stomach, which is responsible for breaking down and making the food digestible. The most common area within the stomach where this cancer can break out is the gastroesophageal junction, where the stomach connects with the oesophagus.
However, determining the exact point of cancer cell breakout is extremely important to determine the subsequent treatment plan. Surgery of the cell is the most common option for treatment. However, there are other options which we will be discussing in the coming points.
Causes of Digestive System Cancer
Experts are still unsure about the appropriate causes of digestive system cancer. However, there are specific theories that have been developed. Experts believe that stomach cancer can start from stomach infections, dismantling the acid reflux process of the stomach, or intaking excessively high amounts of salts. However, not everyone with such a case might develop stomach cancer and vice versa.
Stomach cancer can be detected when there is long-standing pain in the abdominal region or, specifically, immense problems digesting even the simplest foods. When cancer starts spreading in the cells, it changes the instruction pattern in the cells. With re-programming of the DNA, it forces the cancer cells to multiply rapidly. With the outgrowth of infected cells over healthy cells, lumps or tumours can be seen over time.
In rare cases, cancer cells from the stomach can rapidly start growing and affect cells from other body parts. This phenomenon is called metastasis.
Symptoms of Digestive System Cancer
One might encounter different symptoms when affected by digestive system cancer. However, not everyone would come across the same set of symptoms. Here are some of the common digestive system cancer symptoms listed based on studies.
- Trouble with swallowing food
- Pain in the belly or abdominal region
- Loss of appetite or hunger
- Feeling bloated after every meal
- Feeling abnormally full even after eating significantly less
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Abnormally losing weight
- Black-coloured stool
- Getting tired
A common problem with stomach cancer is that symptoms would not visible in the early stages. It would come in simple ways of indigestion and stomach pain. The signs will be more visible as time passes and the cells start multiplying.
Treatment for Digestive System Cancer
To date, three treatment methods are effective against any cancer. The same goes for stomach cancer treatment, and here are three of them discussed in detail.
It is the most common method for treating stomach cancer. However, the extent of surgery depends on the stages of the cancer.
- Stage T1a is when cancer has just begun to develop, and the cells or tumours are removed with an endoscope. This occurs in the targeted area, and the process is known as endoscopic mucosal resection.
- Stage 0 or I- In this stage, the cancer cells are spreading yet are within the walls of the stomach and have not affected any other parts. In this case, the cancer cells and some nearby healthy lymph nodes are removed through surgery. This process is also known as partial or subtotal gastrectomy, and the surgeon connects the oesophagus or small intestine to the remaining part of the stomach.
- The final condition is where the cancer cells have spread outside the stomach walls and have affected other organs or body parts. In this case, radiation therapy, like chemo, might be used. The process is known as total gastrectomy, where the entire stomach is removed. The oesophagus and small intestine are directly connected to food processing.
Radiation therapy is a method where high-concentration x-rays or similar rays are used to burn and destroy cancer cells. This process needs to be done in instalments, and a specific schedule is done to take the radiation over a certain period.
In the case of stomach cancer, radiation is applied from outside, which means an external machine is used. It is used before surgery to melt and reduce the tumour size formed through cancer cells. The other way round is to eradicate cancer cells through high-concentration rays. However, this method can have multiple side effects.
Chemotherapy is the use of targeted drugs to reduce the growth of cancer cells within the body or even destroy the cells in some cases. Like radiation therapy, chemotherapy also needs to be done in a specific schedule where either one drug or a combination of drugs are injected into the affected area.
The most common combination drugs used for treating stomach cancer are:
Cancer is complicated to defeat, irrespective of the area it affects. However, stomach cancer can be dangerous since it dismantles the digestive routine. Hence any minimal symptoms should never be ignored. Instead, regular checkups must be done, and if any signs are detected, treatment should be started immediately. Since cancer can be eradicated from the body at the early stages, we should always keep a watch out for it.