Gastric Cancer

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Gastric Cancer
Early Gastric (Stomach) Cancer

Gastric cancer (stomach cancer) is one of the commonest malignant tumors (the second most common cancer after lung cancer). Gastric cancer is usually diagnosed in its late stages and is a disease with a bad prognosis.

Causes

Stomach cancer is predisposed by several factors: smoking, alcohol, too much salt, nitrites and nitrates in the diet. Gastric cancer is a common complication of chronic gastritis - the bacteria H.pylori harms the mucosa of the stomach and causes its atrophy. In time, with the addition of other factors, the mucosal cells might mutate, leading to gastric cancer.

Signs and symptoms

There are usually no symptoms during the early stages of gastric cancer. Stomach cancer symptoms develop later, when the tumor grows trough the wall of the stomach. The most common signs are pain in the upper part of the abdomen, nausea and vomiting. The patient refuses to eat, because of mechanical obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. Weight loss and early satiety are usually present. During the late stages, the symptoms depend on the localization of metastases (liver failure, ascitis - fluid in the abdominal cavity, etc).

Diagnostics

If the tumor is big enough, it can be palpated through the abdominal wall. Enlarged lymph nodes can be observed above the left clavicle.

The most important method in diagnosing gastric cancer is endoscopy (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy). During endoscopy, the stomach is examined from the inside. It is possible to perform a biopsy during the procedure. Contrast roentgenography, as well as a CT scan may also be performed. To evaluate the metastases, an ultrasound exam and a chest X-ray scan is performed.

Treatment

Gastric cancer is treated surgically. The tumor as well as a portion of unharmed tissues around it are removed from the body. During the later stages of the disease, palliative surgeries are performed (these surgeries are performed to improve the patient’s life quality instead of curing him/her completely). Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used as well.

Prognosis

The prognosis of gastric cancer depends on the stage and spread of the disease. If the tumor is small and diagnosed in its early stage, it is radically removed. The prognosis is then good. However, if the cancer has spread throughout the body, the prognosis is bad.

   

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