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Stomach Cancer

What Is Stomach Cancer?

Cancer occurs when cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer and they all come about because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. Different types of cancer behave very differently. Lung cancer, breast cancer, vaginal cancer, and liver cancer are very different diseases. The diseases grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. People with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their kind of cancer.

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer starts in the stomach. The stomach is divided into five different layers. Cancer can develop in any of these sections. View the stomach.

The stomach is composed of five layers. Starting from the inside and working our way out, the innermost layer is called the mucosa. Stomach acid and digestive juices are made in the mucosa layer. The next layer is called the submucosa. The submucosa is surrounded by the muscularis, a layer of muscle that moves and mixes the stomach contents. The next two layers, the subserosa and the serosa are the wrapping for the stomach. The serosa is the outermost layer of the stomach.

Most stomach cancers start in the mucosa. The cancer can grow deeper and infect the other layers. As it grows deeper, the outlook for a cure gets worse.

Stomach cancers grow slowly over many years. Cancer just doesn't suddenly appear. As the cancer develops, there are usually changes that occur in the lining of the stomach. These early changes usually do not produce symptoms and are often are unnoticed.

How does Stomach Cancer spread?

Stomach cancer can spread to different parts of the body. It can grow through the wall of the stomach and into nearby organs or it can also spread to the lymph nodes and then through the lymph system.

When stomach cancer is more advanced, it will travel through the blood stream and form deposits of cancer cells in organs such as the liver, lungs, and bones. But even though it has spread to other organs, it is still called stomach cancer. If it has spread in this manner, it can no longer be cured.

Types of Stomach Cancer

There are three main types of stomach cancers: lymphomas, gastric stromal tumors, and carcinoid tumors. Lymphomas are cancers of the immune system tissue that are sometimes found in the wall of the stomach. Gastric stromal tumors develop from the tissue of the stomach wall. Carcinoid tumors are tumors of hormone-producing cells of the stomach.

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

  • Unintended weight loss and lack of appetite
  • Pain in the area of the stomach (abdominal pain)
  • Vague discomfort in the abdomen, often above the navel
  • A sense of fullness just below the chest bone after eating a small meal
  • Heartburn, indigestion, or ulcer-type symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, with or without blood
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Weakness and fatigue

How Is Stomach Cancer Treated?

The three main treatments for stomach cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is the use of high-energy rays to shrink or kill cancer cells. Side effects from radiation therapy can include mild skin problems, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fatigue.

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. While chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells, they also damage some normal cells and this can lead to side effects. These side effects depend on the type of drugs used, the amount given, and the length of treatment. You could experience some of these temporary side effects: Fatigue, Nausea and vomiting, Loss of appetite, Hair loss, Mouth sores, A higher risk of infection caused by a shortage of white blood cells, Bruising or bleeding after minor cuts

Surgery is removal of the cancer and the part of the stomach where it is attached.

Stomach Cancer Statistics

  • Each year, about 24,000 people in the United States learn that they have cancer of the stomach.

 

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