Causes And Risk Factors
Abnormal cell growth in the stomach lining causes stomach cancer to grow. But each person has different risk factors that increase individual risk for developing the disease.
The most significant risk factor for developing stomach cancer is having a Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection, according to Moffitt Cancer Center. Long-term infections can cause pre-cancerous changes in the stomach lining.
Some factors, such as age and sex, cant be controlled. Others, such as lifestyle and diet, can be controlled.
Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer not having risk factors doesnât mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk.
Factors that may increase stomach cancer risk include:
Gastric Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Lining Of The Stomach
The stomach is a J-shaped organ in the upper abdomen. It is part of the digestive system, which processes nutrients in foods that are eaten and helps pass waste material out of the body. Food moves from the throat to the stomach through a hollow, muscular tube called the esophagus. After leaving the stomach, partly-digested food passes into the small intestine and then into the large intestine.
The wall of the stomach is made up of 5 layers of tissue. From the innermost layer to the outermost layer, the layers of the stomach wall are: mucosa, submucosa, muscle, subserosa , and serosa. Gastric cancer begins in the mucosa and spreads through the outer layers as it grows.
Stromal tumors of the stomach begin in supporting connective tissue and are treated differently from gastric cancer. See the PDQ summary on Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors Treatment for more information.
For more information about cancers of the stomach, see the following PDQ summaries:
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
After receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, your doctor might be the last person you want to talk to. But these questions can help start a dialogue about the next steps:
- What can I expect in the coming days, weeks, months, or years? This can help give you an idea of whats to come down the road, allowing you to better prepare yourself to face these new challenges.
- Whats my life expectancy? This may sound like a daunting question, but having a timeline can help you make choices you can control, whether thats taking a trip, catching up with friends and family, or attempting life-prolonging treatments.
- Are there any tests that can give a better idea of my life expectancy? Once a terminal cancer diagnosis is made, some doctors may want to conduct additional tests to get a better idea of the extent of the cancer. This will help you and your doctor have a better understanding of life expectancy. It can also help your doctor prepare you for proper palliative care.
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How Can You Treat Stomach Cancer
The treatments for stomach cancer vary depending on the type of cancer you have, its location in the body, if it is advanced and your personalized care plan. At The University of Kansas Cancer Center, we offer clinical trials that may provide new treatment options for stomach cancer.
Possible options include:
- Radiation: High-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells, typically done using a machine outside the body.
- Chemotherapy: Using one or more drugs to destroy cancer cells by preventing cancer cell growth.
- Surgery: GI surgery is typically a minimally invasive procedure. The surgeon removes the tumor, as well as some surrounding healthy tissue to determine the extent of disease.
- Targeted therapy: Treatment that targets the genes, proteins or tissue that supports the cancerous cell growth and survival. Targeted therapy blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells and minimizes damage to healthy cells.
Tests That Examine The Stomach And Esophagus Are Used To Diagnose Gastric Cancer
The following tests and procedures may be used:
- Physical exam and health history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patients health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- Blood chemistry studies: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual amount of a substance can be a sign of disease.
- Complete blood count : A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the following:
- The amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
- The portion of the sample made up of red blood cells.
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Surgery To Ease Your Symptoms
If your stomach cancer has spread beyond your stomach, it may not be possible to remove it using surgery.
However, if your stomach has been significantly affected by cancer it can cause a blockage, which prevents food from being properly digested. A blocked stomach can cause symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting and feeling very full after eating.
If your stomach is blocked, there are a few options:
- stenting a stent is a plastic or wire mesh tube inserted through the oesophagus using an endoscope under local anaesthetic after being inserted, the stent will be expanded and open up the stomach
- partial or total gastrectomy to remove the blockage and improve your symptoms
Surgery To Help Control The Symptoms Of Stomach Cancer
You may need surgery to relieve a blockage in the stomach. This helps food pass through your stomach more easily.
The aim of this surgery is to help improve your symptoms, not to cure the cancer.
Targeted cancer medicines aim to stop the cancer from growing.
You may have them with chemotherapy to treat advanced stomach cancer.
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Are There Any Treatments For Terminal Cancer
Terminal cancer is incurable. This means no treatment will eliminate the cancer. But there are many treatments that can help make someone as comfortable as possible. This often involves minimizing the side effects of both the cancer and any medications being used.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
- Where is the cancer located?
- What stage of cancer do I have? What does this mean for my prognosis?
- What treatments are available to me?
- What are the benefits of this treatment? Potential risks?
- What other treatment options are available?
- How will my cancer diagnosis and treatment impact my everyday life?
- Should I get a second opinion?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Stomach cancer isnt always preventable, but it may be treatable if caught early. Depending on your cancer diagnosis, your provider may recommend surgery to remove cancer cells or tumors. They may suggest a combination of treatments that can kill or shrink the cancer cells. Ultimately, your prognosis depends on multiple factors you can discuss with your provider. Dont hesitate to ask about treatment options, including their benefits and risks. Seek your providers guidance on what your cancer diagnosis means for you.
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Is Stomach Cancer Curable If Caught Early
There are many factors that influence the prognosis of patients with stomach cancer, such as the location, type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patients age and overall health. Like all malignancies, stomach cancer is usually most treatable when it is found early, before the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes, surgery is all that is needed to treat stomach cancer in its earliest stages, though other treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy and molecularly targeted therapy may also be included in a patients treatment plan.
After Gastric Cancer Has Been Diagnosed Tests Are Done To Find Out If Cancer Cells Have Spread Within The Stomach Or To Other Parts Of The Body
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the stomach or to otherparts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from thestaging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to knowthe stage in order to plan treatment.
The following tests andprocedures may be used in the staging process:
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Keeping Health Insurance And Copies Of Your Medical Records
Even after treatment, its very important to keep health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of their cancer coming back, this could happen.
At some point after your cancer treatment, you might find yourself seeing a new doctor who doesnt know about your medical history. Its important to keep copies of your medical records to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Learn more in Keeping Copies of Important Medical Records.
Living As A Stomach Cancer Survivor
For some people with stomach cancer , treatment can remove or destroy the cancer. The end of treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but its hard not to worry about cancer coming back. This is very common if youve had cancer.
For other people, the cancer might never go away completely. Some people may get chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or other treatments to try to keep the cancer in check for as long as possible and to prevent or limit any problems it might cause. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful.
Life after stomach cancer means returning to some familiar things and making some new choices.
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Survival Rates By Disease Extent
A second method estimates survival rates based on the extent of cancer in the body. This is the approach used by the National Cancer Instituteâs Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. The SEER system classifies cancer in one of three broader categories:
- Localized: Cancer limited to the lungs
- Regional: Cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes or structures
- Distant: Metastatic cancer
Under the SEER classification system, distant disease and stage 4 cancer are synonymous.
The one drawback to the SEER approach is that stage 4a and 4b lung cancer are melded into one category. This generalized approach not only returns a much lower five-year survival estimate but fails to reflect the wide variability in stage 4 survival rates, particularly in people with limited metastases.
|SEER Stage at Diagnosis|
How Can You Detect Stomach Cancer Early
Be sure to contact your medical provider if you feel like something is not right. There are screening tests for stomach cancer when people are at risk for or are experiencing signs and symptoms. Diagnostic evaluations for gastric cancer include:
- Complete medical history and physical exam
- Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy to view the esophagus, stomach and small intestine after sedation. A small, flexible tube is inserted into the mouth with a tiny camera on the end that allows the doctor to see inside your stomach.
- Biopsy of stomach tissue to be evaluated under a microscope
- CT scan to visualize organs during X-ray
- Endoscopic ultrasound to diagnose and treat stomach cancer at the same time by visualizing organs and nearby blood vessels
- Positron emission tomography scan to illuminate cancer cells. A radioactive sugar tracer is used because cancer cells use more sugar than healthy cells and the tracer illuminates the cancer cells.
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A Good Day For Patients With Gastric Cancer
In both trials, the side effects of the combination therapy were similar to those reported previously in studies involving chemotherapy plus nivolumab in patients with other types of cancer.
Most patients have few side effects and do very well with these immunotherapy drugs, said Dr. Allegra. He noted, however, that some patients may develop inflammation in various organs that can lead to symptoms. Inflammation of the bowel, for example, can cause diarrhea. In rare cases, some types of immunotherapy may cause severe or even fatal allergic and inflammation-related reactions.
In the CheckMate 649 trial, 38% of patients discontinued the combination due to treatment-related side effects, compared with 25% of patients who received chemotherapy alone. In the combination-therapy group, 8 patients died as the result of treatment-related toxicity compared with 4 patients in the chemotherapy-alone group.
Elizabeth Smyth, M.D., of Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, the United Kingdom, who discussed the two trials during the EMSO meeting, said, It is a good day for patients with gastric cancer.
The demonstration of a treatment regimen that could improve survival beyond one year was a milestone, Dr. Smyth added. More research, she went on, is needed to understand which patients may benefit most from the treatment based on biological markers such as PD-L1.
Whats The Life Expectancy For Stage 4 Stomach Cancer
When you think about life expectancy, there are some important things to keep in mind:
- Many factors affect your prognosis, including age, overall health, and the treatments you choose. Also, everyone responds differently to treatments, and theres no way to know how your body will respond.
- Survival rates are based on the stage at diagnosis.
- Relative survival rates compare people who have stomach cancer with people in the general population who dont have cancer.
- These statistics were compiled based on people diagnosed years ago. Cancer treatments change quickly. The latest treatments and increasing lifespans arent reflected in those earlier numbers.
According to the , the overall relative survival rate for all stages of stomach cancer is 31.5 percent. The five-year relative survival rate for distant stomach cancer is 5.3 percent. These figures include people diagnosed between 2009 and 2015.
Your doctor will consider your complete medical profile to help you understand your own outlook.
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Tumor Location: Cardia Vs Non
The incidence of cardia and non-cardia tumors varied significantly depending on gender and ethnic background. 30% of men and 14% of women had gastric ca arising from the cardia. The incidence of cardia cancers also varied significantly across ethnicities. 32% of Whites had cardia primaries, 13% of AA’s, 11% of Asians, and 14% of Hispanics.
How Is Stomach Cancer Treated
Treatment depends on how far your cancers spread, your health and treatment preferences. It often involves a care team that includes your primary care provider, a cancer specialist and a gastrointestinal specialist . They can advise you on treatment options.
Depending on how much the cancers spread, your provider may recommend surgery to remove precancerous cells, a tumor, or all or part of your stomach.
- Upper endoscopy: In the early stages, when the cancer is limited to your stomach’s superficial layers, the cancer can be removed through an upper endoscopy. In this procedure , a gastroenterologist cuts the tumor from your stomach wall and removes it through your mouth.
- Gastrectomy. Once the tumor spreads beyond your stomach’s superficial layers, you’ll need surgery to remove all or part of your stomach. Subtotal gastrectomy removes the part of your stomach affected by the cancer. Total gastrectomy removes your entire stomach. Your provider will connect your esophagus to your small intestine so that you can still eat following total gastrectomy.
Additional treatments attack cancer cells directly.
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Survival Statistics For Stomach Cancer
Survival statistics for stomach cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.
There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for stomach cancer and what they mean to you.
Diagnosis Of Stomach Cancer In Cats
When a cat develops gastrointestinal signs, your veterinarian will first perform a comprehensive physical exam.
Your cats overall health will be assessed, including body weight, hydration, mucous membrane color, and your cats mental attitude . Next, your veterinarian will focus on your cats abdomen.
If an obvious cause for your cats gastrointestinal signs is not found on physical exam, your veterinarian will recommend a further workup.
A complete blood panel, including a complete blood cell count and serum biochemistry panel, will often be performed first.
In a cat with stomach cancer, this bloodwork may show signs of anemia , increased white blood cells , and decreased blood protein . If your cats liver is also affected, your veterinarian may also notice increases in one or more of your cats liver values.
Next, your veterinarian will recommend imaging.
Radiographs and ultrasound can both be used to provide a view of what is going on in your cats abdomen. Radiographs are less expensive than ultrasound, but they also show less abdominal detail than an ultrasound.
Ultrasound is more informative, providing a three-dimensional view of all structures in the abdomen, including the lymph nodes, and provides the ability to detect small metastases. However, ultrasound often requires referral to a veterinary specialist, as well as sedation.
In order to definitively diagnose stomach cancer, a cellular diagnosis is needed.
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