Gastric cancer, also referred to as stomach cancer is the abnormal growth of cells within the lining of the stomach. This abnormal cell growth forms a tumor which can be further developed in any part of the body. Initially, cancer cells originate from the inner lining of the stomach wall and slowly penetrate into the latter as the cancer progresses in the further stages. At times, the tumor involves nearby organs such as the liver and pancreas. Gastric cancer is a bit distinct from the other types of cancers as different parts of the stomach cause varied symptoms. These symptoms tend to be dismissed as normal gastrointestinal issues; and by the time stomach cancer is fully diagonsed, it’s often in the advanced stages. Even though, stomach cancer is hard to diagnose and treat, it is important to know about it and follow some preventive measures to eliminate the risk of developing the same.
What causes Gastric Cancer
One of the most significant causes of gastric cancer is the genetic change in the stomach cells causing them to grow abnormally, forming tumors. These tumors can invade and destroy the healthy cells. With time, the cells can break off and metastasize in different parts of the body.
Apart from genetic mutation, following are the various other factors that escalate the risk of the same:
One can adopt many lifestyle changes in order to reduce the risk of stomach cancer:
Maintaining a healthy weight: Obesity is one of the major factors causing gastric cancer hence, maintaining a healthy weight is always advised.
Limit the amount of salt in your diet: Food with a generous amount of salt can have adverse affects not only on your stomach but your whole body as well.
Quit smoking: Smoking is linked with numerous cancers, gastric being one of them. One must relinquish it altogether.
Eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables: Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your everyday diet keeps the stomach healthy.
Treatment of pylori infection: Infection from H. pylori can lead to stomach ulcers. Antibiotics are recommended to heal the same which further helps to bring down the risk of stomach cancer.
How to diagnose gastric ulcers?
As the symptoms of stomach cancer rarely appear in the initial stage, it is difficult to diagnose the disease until it proceeds further. There are various tests and screenings for diagnosing them. However, before suggesting tests, a doctor may take a physical examination.
1. Blood test: To check the presence of H. pylori in the blood.
2. Endoscopy: Helps determine the extent of cancer in the wall by creating detailed pictures of the stomach.
3. Biopsy: Small amount of tissue from the stomach area is tested in the laboratory to analyze for cancerous cells.
4. Barium swallow: A special liquid substance containing barium is swallowed which helps to find abnormalities in the abdomen during an X-ray.
5. Imaging tests: CT/PET scan and/or MRI, to examine how far the cancer has reached to plan the treatment accordingly.