Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer: Putting It All Together

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to stomach cancer.

  • Stomach cancer is a disease in which normal cells in the stomach tissues are triggered and grow out of control.
  • Experts have been unable to define one primary cause for stomach cancer, but many factors seem to be involved. Stomach ulcers, stomach polyps, environmental factors or infection may be possible causes. Diet has also been implicated.
  • The symptoms of stomach cancer in the early stages can be vague and include indigestion, discomfort, nausea, or heartburn. In more advanced stages of stomach cancer, symptoms can include blood in the stool, vomiting, weight loss and stomach pain.
  • If the medical history and/or examination indicate, the doctor will order laboratory blood tests examinations to diagnose the condition, which may include a fecal occult blood test, upper gastrointestinal (GI) series, or barium swallow, and endoscopy.
  • If stomach cancer is found, tests will be done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. The process of staging describes the extent and severity of cancer growth. Once the doctor knows what the stage of the disease is, treatment can be planned.
  • The stage of the cancer is determined by the size of the main tumor, the degree to which the cancer has invaded the surrounding tissue and the extent to which it has spread to lymph nodes or other areas of the body. A higher stage is more serious.
  • Treatment varies by individual, but may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy, or participation in clinical trial. Each therapy has a range of possible side effects to consider.
  • Some people have temporary or permanent difficulty digesting certain foods after surgery, so a change of diet is usually necessary. Some will need to follow a special diet for a time, while others will have to make permanent changes.
  • Stomach cancer, like any cancer, is both physically and emotionally stressful. There are a variety of support groups available to help people facing the challenges of stomach cancer. A strong network of support, including family or friends, and health professionals, can ease the difficult adjustments throughout treatment and after.

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