Stomach cancer (also called gastric cancer) is now much less common than it was around 30 years back. It usually affects men and is common among those people who are above the age of 55.
The organ that connects the duodenum and the oesophagus is the stomach. It plays a role in digesting the food eaten, absorbing the nutrients into the body. This is done by contracting the stomach muscles for breaking down solid food particles.
Types of Stomach Cancer
There are many kinds of stomach cancer, adenocarcinoma being the most common one. Lymphoma is a lesser common kind of stomach cancer. It occurs in the lymphatic tissue. Sarcoma is another type of stomach cancer, which grows in the connective tissues in the wall of the stomach. It is advised to diagnose and treat the condition as early as possible, as there are high chances of it spreading into the liver, pancreas and the gullet.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
The symptoms of stomach cancer are similar to those of several other health conditions; hence it gets quite difficult to identify the condition. Due to this reason, in many cases the condition gets quite developed by the time it’s diagnosed and the treatment is started. It is essential to get the symptoms checked as early as possible.
The initial symptoms of stomach cancer are:
- Vomiting (usually streaks or dark coloured or red blood are noticed)
- Pain in the sternum or stomach
- Lower appetite
- Frequent burping and trapped wind
- Feeling bloated after meals
- Problems in swallowing
The symptoms that are experienced when the stomach cancer is more advanced are:
- Lumpiness in the stomach
- Loss in body weight
- Appetite loss
- Blood or blackness in the stools
Causes of Stomach Cancer
The basic cause of cancer is the rapid multiplication of specific cells in a particular area of the body. The cause for stomach cancer is not fully known yet. Some of the possible causes are listed below:
Age – the risk of being afflicted by stomach cancer rises with age. Mostly it happens to people over the age of 55.
Smoking – smoking raises the risk of getting stomach cancer by twice the amount. This happens because the tobacco inhaled while smoking is swallowed into the stomach.
Diet – the types of food eaten increase the chances of developing cancer. Excess of salty foods may cause cancer. Usually preserved and processed food contains a lot of salt. Following diets that have more of fresh vegetables and fruits are recommended.
Helicobacter pylori infection – this refers to a bacterial infection that is linked with stomach cancer. This infection is quite common but very few people are affected by it. This condition does not cause any symptoms and does not necessarily cause stomach cancer.
Family history – a person is very likely to get stomach cancer if any close member of his/her family is affected with it.
Having any other type of cancer – cancer in other parts of the body like the gullet or the non-hodgkin’s lymphoma raise the risk of getting afflicted by stomach cancer.
Medical conditions – certain medical condition that may result in stomach cancer are:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Pernicious anaemia
- Barrett’s oesophagus
- Peptic stomach ulcers
- Surgery affecting the stomach – if a person has undergone any surgery that affect the stomach, he or she is more prone to getting stomach cancer.