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Overview of Stomach Cancer

Stomach is an organ located just below the ribs which stores food and is included in its breakdown. In most cases, stomach or gastric cancer develops as a result of anomalies in the cells located on the walls of the stomach. As far as the prevalence goes, stomach cancer is fairly rare in the United States and is declining, while its presence is much more felt in Japan. Further, the beginning of cancer is marked by a mutation that takes place in the cells. When the mutated cells gather they form a tumor, while some disconnect and start traveling through the body. The earlier the cancer cells are detected the greater the possibility that they will be stopped in forming a tumor in the stomach or settling anywhere else. Further, the experts are not clear on what causes stomach cancer but the mass usage of refrigerators plays a role in its reduction. Many clinicians agree that large amounts of salted, pickled, or smoked food contribute to stomach cancer.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The signs and symptoms of stomach cancer are comorbid with numerous other disorders so diagnosing it might take a little longer. The most common signs are vomiting, weight loss, requiring less food to feel full, stomach pain, and heartburn. If any of the symptoms last longer than usual it is advised that the individual sees a medical care professional. A family physician or a general practitioner refers the person to a gastroenterologist who administers further testing. An oncologist takes over in case the cancer has developed. One of the first tests that is administered when diagnosing stomach cancer includes a tube that is passed down the patient`s throat and which contains a camera that takes pictures from inside the stomach. Also, scanning tests are often employed, such as a CT scan, an X-Ray or an MRI. They generate good quality images while exposing the person to minimal levels of radiation. Many experts recommend laparoscopy, during which a number of incisions are made on the abdomen to insert tubes containing cameras to seek any spreading of cancer. Lastly, as with any other type of cancer a biopsy is usually performed on the tissue to look for any pathological changes.

Types and Risk Factors for Stomach Cancer

There are a few distinct types of stomach cancer that differ mostly in the kinds of cells in which they originate. For instance, the lining of the stomach is filled with a number of lymph cells that are involved in the immune system and which can develop cancer. On the walls of the stomach are also the glandular cells which generate mucus that protects the wall from acids, and which can also develop cancer. Cells in the stomach that produce hormones are also prone to cancer as well as the nervous system cells located in the stomach. In addition, there are many elements which are found to lead to the development of stomach cancer. For example, chronic gastritis, various types of anemia, history of stomach cancer in the family, stomach polyps, smoking, foods that are heavily smoked or salted, as well as a low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Stages and Surgery of Stomach Cancer

The most common of the stomach cancers is the glandular cell cancer, and it usually has four distinct stages. Stage I is characterized by the tumor being contained in the wall of the stomach. There is a possibility that some cancerous cells have spread on the surrounding lymph nodes. In stage II the cancer has grown deeper into the stomach and has affected more lymph nodes. Stage III could either be that the cancer has spread through all of the stomach or it is still fairly small but it has degenerated a large amount of lymph nodes. In the stage IV the cancer has spread to the nearby organs or it has affected distant areas by traveling through the lymph system. In addition, the primary aim of stomach surgery is to remove the tumor to stop the spreading. If the cancerous cells are in the wall a small tube with a camera is inserted through the mouth and special tools are utilized to remove the tumor. In case the cancer has spread to the stomach the affected fragment of the organ is removed. In the latter stages of cancer there is a possibility to remove the whole stomach and to connect the esophagus to the small intestine. In many instances, clinicians recommend taking sample lymph nodes out of the abdomen to monitor for new cancer cells. In case the organ cannot be saved part of the stomach can still be removed in order to ease the pain and other symptoms of cancer. Such surgery would not cure the patient but would only make him or her less uncomfortable. It should be noted that anyone who goes through stomach surgery can expect various digestive issues.

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