What Causes Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer forms when theres a genetic mutation in the DNA of your stomach cells. DNA is the code that tells cells when to grow and when to die. Because of the mutation, the cells grow rapidly and eventually form a tumor instead of dying. The cancer cells overtake healthy cells and may spread to other parts of your body .
Researchers dont know what causes the mutation. Still, certain factors seem to increase the likelihood of developing stomach cancer. They include:
- Family history of stomach cancer.
Stomach cancer is more common in people with Type A blood, although researchers arent sure why.
How Is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed
Stomach cancer is rare compared to other types of cancer, but it still affects more than 20,000 Americans every year. The risk of dying from stomach cancer before the age of 75 is roughly about 1.36% for men and 0.57% for women.¹ Additionally, the survival rate is about 71%. The bottom line is: stomach cancer isn’t a death sentence.
Stomach cancer is easier to manage and treat when diagnosed early. Unfortunately, it is difficult to diagnose, and most people don’t know that they are suffering from the condition until they have significant spread and the disease is quite advanced. Here is a brief overview of stomach cancer and a comprehensive guide on how its diagnosed.
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Common Early Signs Of Stomach Cancer
More than 7 in 100,000 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer each year, while 3 in 100,000 die from the disease. About 0.8% of all men and women will be diagnosed with stomach cancer at some point in their life. As of 2017, 116,525 in the United States were living with stomach cancer.
In 2020, the National Cancer Institute estimates 27,600 new cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed, which is roughly 1.5% of all new cancer cases. The NCI also projects 11,010 deaths from stomach cancer in 2020, which is 1.8% of all cancer deaths.
Because stomach cancer affects men and women differently, and can be difficult to diagnose, it is crucial to understand its unique traits and the illnesses it can mimic. This article covers the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer, the different disease stages, primary causes, warning signs and how to manage it.
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Which Doctors & Specialists To See
Stomach cancer is a complex condition that can originate at different points and affect multiple organs. Consequently, diagnosing and treating this condition requires input from specialists in various fields, including:
A gastroenterologist who specializes in the gastrointestinal tract .
A medical oncologist specializing in medicines that treat cancer.
A surgical oncologist specializing in surgeries that treat cancer.
A radiation oncologist specializing in radiation therapy using high-energy x-rays.
A radiologist specializing in administering and interpreting imaging tests.
A pathologist specializing in administering and interpreting lab tests.
Other specialists whose input you may require are a dietitian, counselor, pharmacist, oncology nurse, and social worker, depending on your needs. The team should collaborate and coordinate closely to optimize care and maximize your likelihood of recovering.
What Are The Different Types Of Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is the name for a category of cancer. There are many different types of stomach cancer:
- Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of gastric cancer, comprising more than 90% of all stomach cancers. Carcinoma that occurs in the innermost lining of the stomach.
- Lymphoma: Cancer of the immune system that accounts for 4% of all stomach cancer, which is not from the mucosa of the stomach lining. It is broken up into primary and secondary lymphoma of the stomach.
- Primary lymphoma involves the stomach and can eventually affect the lymph nodes, bone marrow and other parts of the body.
- Secondary lymphoma initially involves other parts of the body, like circulating blood, lymph nodes, bone marrow and other organs. Secondarily, cancer spreads to the stomach.
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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:
Can You Feel A Tumor In Your Stomach
Your provider may be able to feel a mass in your stomach during a physical exam depending on how advanced the cancer is. More often, however, symptoms involve recognizing sensations in your stomach. Your stomach may frequently feel swollen, full or painful. The pain may start as mild and then get more intense as the disease progresses.
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How Stomach Cancer Spreads
There are 3 ways stomach cancer can spread:
- directly the cancer can spread from the stomach into nearby tissues and organs, such as the pancreas, colon, small intestine and peritoneum
- through the lymphatic system the lymphatic system is a series of glands located throughout your body, similar to the blood circulatory system the glands produce specialised cells needed by your immune system to fight infection
- through the blood which can cause the cancer to spread from the stomach to other parts of the body, most commonly the liver
Stomach cancer that spreads to another part of the body is known as metastatic stomach cancer.
If You’re Told You Have Stomach Cancer
Being told you have stomach cancer can feel overwhelming. You may be feeling anxious about what will happen next.
It can help to bring someone with you to any appointments you have.
A group of specialists will look after you throughout your diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Your team will include a clinical nurse specialist who will be your main point of contact during and after treatment.
You can ask them any questions you have.
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How Blood Protein Testing Works
Blood protein testing uses a process called electrophoresis to measure two types of proteins in the blood: globulin and albumin. Albumin is the most abundant protein in the blood. Low levels of albumin can signal myeloma as the cancer may block its production. High levels of globulin can signal myeloma as it can cause an increase in production of globulin.
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‘it Was Only Caught Because Of A Mammogram’
As a mother of two girls, Bessa said doctors have suggested that her daughters begin their annual mammograms at age 30. Currently, her oldest daughter is 17 and her youngest daughter is 15.
They know they are at risk, she said.
Bessa said its important for women to get their annual monograms because not all women have symptoms or lumps in their breast tissue.
I had no signs at all, she said. It was only caught because of a mammogram.
National Breast Cancer Month, recognized each year in October, is important because it serves as a reminder for women to get annual mammograms, Bessa said.
I know just after telling my story on Facebook to my friends about cancer, several women went and scheduled their mammograms because they had been putting them off, she said.
Last year, nearly 300 patients were treated for breast cancer at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Sawyer said.
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Annual mammograms really do keep us in a better place if we do happen to develop breast cancer, she said.
New guidelines require that doctors conduct a risk assessment on every woman by the age of 25, Sawyer said.
The typical age for a womens first-time mammogram is 40, she said, but if a woman is considered high risk, then those annual mammograms will start sooner.
You backup that requirement 10 years, so if your mom had breast cancer at 40, then you would start receiving mammograms at 30, Sawyer said.
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When To Call A Professional
You should see your doctor if you have symptoms of stomach cancer, such as heartburn, that persist or don’t respond to over-the-counter antacids. Some people should be particularly alert for symptoms of stomach cancer, including those who:
- use tobacco or alcohol
- have a family history of stomach cancer
- have a diet low in fruits and vegetables
- eat lots of cured, smoked, or salted meats.
What Can I Do To Prevent Stomach Cancer In Dogs
Wondering how to prevent cancer in dogs? Sadly, there is very little you can do to prevent stomach cancer in your pup. This is because most of the factors that affect stomach cancer risks like age and sex are out of your control. What you can control, however, is your dogs quality of life.
Provide your dog with a healthy lifestyle by giving her high-quality food and allowing her adequate physical activity every day. Opt for whole natural foods and limit processed foods, particularly cured meats. Healthy foods boost the dogs immune system, prevent inflammation, and support overall wellbeing.
Another factor you can control is the quality of treatment your dog gets if she gets diagnosed with stomach cancer. The best treatments are very expensive, with surgery costing up to $8000. To ensure your pet is always provided with the best treatment, sign up for a good pet health insurance plan.
The OneVet Insurance Plan is the best deal you can get for your pet. For only $19.99, you get $3000 in emergency veterinary care coverage, 24-hour access to a licensed veterinarian, and coverage for any pre-existing conditions.
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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.
Breast Cancer Can Affect Anyone
Elizabeth Sawyer, medical director for Cape Fear Valley Breast Care Center, a breast cancer oncology surgeon and a U.S. Army four-time combat medic, said breast cancer can affect anyone, at any age, especially if it runs in the family.
Sawyer said the youngest patient shes ever treated for breast cancer was a 17-year-old when Sawyer was working at Womack Army Medical Center 10 years ago.
She had felt a mass in her breast about six months prior to her coming to see me, Sawyer said.
The teen had gone to her pediatrician and an ultrasound was inconclusive, yet it would be six months before the young woman got a follow-up, Sawyer said.
Well, the mass grew, so they ended up sending her to me, she said.
Sawyer said that when she asked the 17-year-old if anyone in her family had ever been diagnosed with breast cancer, the girl’s grandmother started crying.
Come to find out, her mother had been diagnosed at the age of 21 and died at the age of 23, she said. She had the BRCA1 gene mutation that she inherited from her mother. The BRCA1 gene is a breast cancer cell mutation that can be passed down from one generation to the next.
Its a 50/50 chance whether a child will inherit the same mutation, she said. If they dont inherit the mutation, then they have the same risk as the rest of us walking around and that risk is 1 in 8. So, 1 in 8 women are going to develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
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Colon Cancer And White Blood Cell Count
White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and are easily detectable in blood tests. A specific type of white blood cell called the neutrophil is responsible for warding off infections and destroying harmful cells.
The normal neutrophil count is 1,000/1 microliter. A deficiency in neutrophils is called neutropenia. This is caused by severe infections that are too invasive.
On the other hand, neutrophil production can also be stalled by the presence of cancer. Cancer treatments can also affect neutrophil count due to radiation exposure. Keeping track of your neutrophil count can help you understand how your body works.
What Kind Of Doctor Treats Stomach Cancer
There is a team of specialists that cares for people with stomach cancer:
- Gastroenterologist: a doctor who specializes in the stomach and intestines
- Surgical oncologist: a doctor who surgically removes cancer tumors and cancerous cells
- Medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with oral or systemic medication
- Radiation oncologist: a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation therapy
- Pathologist: a doctor who evaluates cells, tissues and organs and performs other laboratory tests to diagnose disease
- Radiologist: a doctor who uses imaging tests to diagnose disease
Depending on your condition and where you are in your treatment, you may meet with any one of these specialists at a given time.
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Causes Of Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer is caused by changes in the cells of the stomach, although it’s unclear exactly why these changes occur.
Cancer begins with a change in the structure of the DNA in cells, which can affect how they grow. This means cells grow and reproduce uncontrollably, producing a lump of tissue called a tumour.
Left untreated, cancer can spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymphatic system .
Once the cancer reaches your lymphatic system, it’s capable of spreading to other parts of your body, including your blood, bones and organs.
It’s not known what triggers the changes in DNA that lead to stomach cancer and why only a small number of people develop the condition.
What Is Cancer Staging
Staging is a way of describing where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body. Doctors use diagnostic tests to find out the cancers stage, so staging may not be complete until all of the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor recommend the best kind of treatment, and it can help predict a patients prognosis, which is the chance of recovery.
There are different stage descriptions for different types of cancer. This section covers staging of adenocarcinoma, the most common type of stomach cancer. Staging is different for gastric lymphoma, sarcoma, and neuroendocrine tumors.
This page provides detailed information about how adenocarcinoma, the most common type of stomach cancer, is staged. It describes the systems used to find the stage and the stage groups, such as stage II or stage IV.
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How Fast Does Stomach Cancer Spread In Dogs
Malignant stomach cancer in dogs is very aggressive and spreads at a very fast rate. In fact, due to late diagnosis, stomach cancer is often discovered after it has already spread to other organs.
The organs most affected by stomach cancer are regional lymph nodes, but they can also spread to the liver, lungs, small intestines, pancreas, and esophagus. The presence of a visible spread of the cancer is a poor prognostic sign.
Stages Of Stomach Cancer
The stage of stomach cancer indicates how far the cancer has spread in the body.
Usually, the TNM system from the American Joint Committee on Cancer is used to determine the stage of stomach cancer. The system looks at three areas:
- T category: the size of the tumor and how far it extends
- N category: how far the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes
- M category: whether the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body
The findings in each category are combined to determine a stage of 0 to 4. A lower number represents an earlier stage of cancer. While tumor growth and spread will vary, in general, each stage looks like:
As long as the cancer hasnt spread to distant parts of the body, it will be between stage 0 and 3. If it has spread to other areas, the diagnosis will be stage 4 stomach cancer.
Different stages have different treatments and expected survival rates. With early stage cancer thats only in the stomach, theres a
32 percent of all people with stomach cancer are expected to survive at least 5 years after getting a diagnosis.
Most of these survivors have a localized diagnosis. This means that the stomach was the original source of the cancer and it hasnt spread. When the origin is unknown, it can be difficult to diagnose and stage the cancer. This makes the cancer harder to treat.
Its also more difficult to treat stomach cancer once it reaches the later stages. If your cancer is more advanced, you may want to consider participating in a clinical trial.
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