The Most Important on Stomach Cancer in a Nutshell (Part 1)
Stomach Cancer is a frightening diagnosis. As frightening as any other cancer diagnoses, only that it’s among the deadliest of all. We hope you’ve never got such and that you never will.
But life happens. If stomach cancer is anyhow part of yours, this article might come of use.
In a series of articles, infographics and video materials our team at FindMeCure will shine a light on the most important point about Stomach cancer, conventional treatments and clinical trials as an option to fight the disease.
In this blog post you will learn:
- What cancer of the stomach is
- How to detect the symptoms
- What the risk factors and causes are
- What treatments are available
- How to find clinical trials for stomach cancer
Stomach cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world. It is also called gastric cancer and is most common in East Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. It is approximately twice as frequent in men as it is in women. Most people diagnosed with stomach cancer are between the age of 60 and 80.
About 28,000 cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2017, while in the UK the average number of people diagnosed with stomach cancer per year is 6000.
Although, in the near past stomach cancer used to be a diagnose with a very poor prognosis, nowadays things are slightly changing due to clinical research and general medicine advancement.
What is cancer of the stomach?
Cancer is a disease of cells. Every cell has its coded instructions how to behave. These instructions are called genes. Mutations in genes cause normal cells to become cancer cells. Cancer cells don’t grow only when they are needed and refuse to die when old or damaged. They can grow into nearby tissues and travel to other parts of the body, merging with the blood and lymph and causing major health problems. This process is called metastasis.
Most stomach cancers start from cells in the inner layer of the stomach which normally make and release mucus. These cancers are called adenocarcinomas and represent about 95% of all stomach cancers.
Unfortunately, early-stage stomach cancer rarely causes symptoms. We urge you to check with your doctor if you experience poor appetite, weight loss, belly pain, a sense of fullness in the upper abdomen after eating a small meal, heartburn, vomiting, with or without blood or anemia.
It’s important to remember, that most of these symptoms are likely to be caused by things other than cancer, such as a stomach virus or an ulcer.
Causes of stomach cancer
It is not clear why stomach cancer occurs but some risk factors have been identified.
- Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori) is a bacteria that can reside in the stomach and cause chronic inflammation or stomach ulcers. If this persists for a few decades, it can evolve into cancer
- A high dietary intake of salt, including smoked or pickled with salt food, strongly increases the risk
- Smoking is another possible trigger of stomach cancer as the rate of stomach cancer is about doubled in smokers
These are factors that can be modified and so gastric cancer can be prevented.
Factors that cannot be modified are:
- a history of stomach cancer in first-degree relatives and rare hereditary mutation in the gene that codes for a protein called Ecadherin and leads to a very high risk of developing stomach cancer.
- For unknown reasons, people with type A blood are at a greater risk of developing adenocarcinoma.
- Previous medical conditions of the stomach like gastro-esophageal reflux, gastric polyps, and previous stomach surgeries are considered prerequisites for gastric cancer.
Types of treatment
Deciding on treatment for stomach cancer requires an inter-disciplinary team of medical professionals. Their first step will be to judge whether the cancer is operable (or resectable), meaning that it is possible to remove the complete tumor in an operation, or it is unresectable, meaning that an operation is not possible. There is no distinct difference between resectable and unresectable in terms of stage of the cancer, but earlier stage cancers are more likely to be resectable.
Surgery is the only treatment that is performed with the purpose of curing the stomach cancer. If this is not possible, the other treatments are done with the purpose of relieving symptoms and prolonging the patient’s lifespan.
Clinical trials are an alternative treatments option for patients with stomach cancer. They are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures.
Currently, there are 349 clinical trials for stomach cancer in the world. In some cases, they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be available for you, start by asking your doctor for some information.
You can also do you own research on FindMeCure – the Google of clinical trials. Simply use the button bellow to find trials for stomach cancer within our data base.Stomach Cancer Trials
You can directly apply for a trial via the apply button on the trial page.
Don’t miss out our next blog post. We will go into more details about stomach cancer prevention, the types of treatments and how to find the right clinical trial for you.
*The information in this article does not replace a medical consultation!