Why Choose The University Of Kansas Cancer Center For Stomach Cancer Diagnosis And Treatment
For a diagnosis as crucial as stomach cancer, there are many benefits to trusting our cancer team with your care. Our cancer center is 1 of only 71 NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide, and we have experts for diagnosing and treating stomach cancer. We are a pioneer in new clinical trial research that leads to innovative treatments. In addition, our hospital continues to rank as the best in Kansas City and in Kansas according to U.S. News & World Report.
Total Gastrectomy Or Oesophagogastrectomy
If your cancer is in the middle or at the top of your stomach, you may need to have a total gastrectomy. If the cancer is close to the end of your oesophagus, where it meets your stomach, you may need to have an oesophagogastrectomy.
If you have a total gastrectomy, the end of your gullet will be joined to the top of your jejunum . If you have an oesophagogastrectomy, the remaining part of your gullet will be joined to your jejunum.
Symptoms Of Stomach Cancer
It is important for patients who are at a high risk of developing stomach cancer, such as those with a helicobacter pylori infection , to consult their doctors when it comes to potential symptoms. Early signs of stomach cancer may include:
- Nausea and vomiting: Especially regurgitating solid food shortly after eating. Vomit can sometimes contain blood.
- Feeling full after eating a small amount : Many cancer patients experience the feeling of fullness in their upper abdomen after eating small amounts of food.
- Bloody stools: Some patients experience rectal bleeding, which can be detected by noticing black, tar-looking blood in their stool, toilet bowl or on their toilet paper. This indicates bleeding from the stomach or upper portion of the small intestine.
- Unexplained weight loss: Patients may experience a lack of appetite and sudden or unexplained weight loss.
- Stomach pain: Abdominal pain or discomfort above the navel may be a sign of a stomach tumor. Swelling and fluid build up in the abdomen also can be caused by stomach cancer.
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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.
Questions You Might Want To Ask Your Gp
- Do I need to see a specialist? Is it urgent?
- When will I see them?
- Where will I see them?
- Will I find out about my appointments by post or telephone?
- Do I need tests? What will they involve?
- How long should I expect to wait?
- Where can I find out more about tests?
- Do I have to do anything in preparation for this test?
- When will I get the results and who will tell me?
Your GP might not be able to answer all of your questions. They will tell you what they can at this point. Not knowing is difficult to cope with and can make you anxious.
Speaking to a friend or relative about how you feel might help.
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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.
What Makes Endoscopy So Effective
Even with an endoscope, it can be difficult to distinguish cancerouslesions from healthy or scarred stomach tissue.
Ngamruengphong explains why: When we perform a screening endoscopy, wedont see a large mass when cancer is present. Instead, we often see verysmall, very subtle lesions.
Doctors with extensive experience using this screening tool can more easilyspot the subtleties of very early stomach cancer. With the help of recentendoscopic technology advances such as high-quality images and dyes,doctors can detect cancer at even earlier stages.
The combination of experienced doctors and sophisticated technologyadvancements means people can get diagnosed and treated earlier. Andthe earlier cancer is treated, the higher the chance of a successfulresult.
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Symptoms Of Gastric Cancer Include Indigestion And Stomach Discomfort Or Pain
In the early stages of gastric cancer, the following symptoms may occur:
- Indigestion and stomach discomfort.
Check with your doctor if you have any of these problems.
Grading And Classifying Stomach Cancer
To find out the grade of stomach cancer, the pathologist looks at a tissue sample from the stomach under a microscope. The pathologist gives stomach cancer a grade from 1 to 4. The lower the number, the lower the grade.
The grade is a description of the differentiation of the cancer cells. Differentiation is how the cancer cells look and behave compared to normal cells.
Low grade means that the cancer cells are well differentiated. They look and act much like normal cells. Lower grade cancer cells tend to be slow growing and are less likely to spread.
High grade means that the cancer cells are poorly differentiated, or undifferentiated. They look and act less normal, or more abnormal. Higher grade cancer cells tend to grow more quickly and are more likely to spread.
Knowing the grade gives your healthcare team an idea of how quickly the cancer may be growing and how likely it is to spread. This helps them plan your treatment. The grade can also help the healthcare team predict how you might respond to treatment.
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Treatment For Stomach Cancer
Tests and procedures used to diagnose gastric cancer may include an upper endoscopy, imaging tests such as a CT scan, and a special X-ray called a barium swallow test. Sometimes, exploratory surgery is needed to fully understand the stage and extent of gastric cancer, which helps determine the best course of treatment.
There are a few main options doctors use to treat stomach cancer. These options include:
What About Other Treatments I Hear About
You might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or to treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
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How To Find A Gp
If you dont have a GP, you can find a doctors surgery in your local area by going to:
Try different times of the day if it’s difficult to get through by phone. It could be particularly busy at the beginning of the day. You dont have to tell the receptionist what you want to see the doctor for, although sometimes it might help to explain your situation.
You might be able to go in person to book an appointment at some GP practices. But at the moment most practices do not provide this service. It may help to see if your GP practice has a website, this will explain the best way to get an appointment.
The receptionist at your GPs practice will usually offer you a telephone or video appointment first. Your GP will ask you to make another appointment if they need to see you again. You may be asked to attend in person, especially if they need to examine you. The receptionist will give you a date and time for this.
Accept a booked appointment, even if you think its a long time to wait. You could ask about cancellations if you are able to get to the practice at short notice. Do check that they have the right contact details for you, including your telephone number and email.
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 that may provide new treatment options for stomach cancer.
Possible options include:
- : High-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells, typically done using a machine outside the body.
- : 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.
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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 doesn’t 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:
How Can My Doctor Tell If I Have Stomach Cancer
You won’t know you have stomach cancer for sure until after your doctor examines your stomach. Sometimes cancer can be in the stomach for a long time and grow very large before it causes symptoms. In the early stages of stomach cancer, you may have these symptoms:
Indigestion, stomach discomfort, or heartburn
A bloated feeling after eating
Nausea or loss of appetite
When the cancer is larger, you may have these symptoms:
Blood in your stool
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, talk with your doctor.
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Stomach Cancer Symptoms To Be Aware Of
Recognizing the symptoms of stomach cancer early could potentially save your life. Here is what to look out for and what to do if you notice any of these signs:
Heartburn or Indigestion
Heartburn and indigestion are caused by an excess of stomach acid irritating the stomach or coming up into the esophagus. They can cause a burning pain in the chest or stomach area and will usually be worse after eating. You may also find that you burp more than normal.
Heartburn and indigestion are very common and there are many different causes. Most of the time, these symptoms will be nothing to worry about, but if they go on for longer than three weeks, you should get them checked out, even if they seem to get better with medication.
Difficulty swallowing is also known as dysphagia. You might get a burning sensation when you swallow or find that food gets stuck in your throat easily.
Dysphagia can be caused by a narrowing of the esophagus which is harmless, but it can also be an early symptom of stomach cancer. So if you are having difficulty swallowing, ask your doctor to investigate and see what is going on.
One of the early symptoms of stomach cancer is a pain in the stomach area or under the breastbone. It might be there all the time or get worse after eating.
Nausea or Vomiting
There may be blood in the vomit which could either be bright red or dark brown. However, sometimes there may not be any noticeable bleeding.
What Causes Cancer Of The Stomach
No single cause for stomach cancer has been identified. However, a number of possible important risk factors are known. Some of these include:
- diets rich in salted or smoked foods
- some foods containing nitrites these chemicals can be converted to more harmful compounds by bacteria in the stomach
- lack of vitamin C, fruits and vegetables
- Helicobacter pylori
- family history
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What Are The Different Types Of Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer, also known as , 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.
- : 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.
Upper Endoscopy With Biopsy
When doctors suspect stomach cancer, they may perform an upper endoscopy, which allows them to view the lining of the stomach. During this procedure, a doctor inserts an endoscopea thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera on the endinto the nose or mouth, through the esophagus, and into the stomach, as well as the first part of the small intestine. The procedure is performed using a sedative.
When the lining of the stomach looks suspicious, your doctor may perform a biopsy. This involves inserting small surgical tools through the endoscope to remove tissue samples to check for signs of cancer. A pathologist, a doctor who studies diseases in a laboratory, examines the biopsy samples to determine whether a person has adenocarcinoma and, if so, how aggressive it is.
Doctors may also test the stomach cells for excessive amounts of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 on their surface. This protein helps a cancer grow. Sometimes, people with HER2-positive cancer may be candidates for targeted drug therapy.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I have a stomach ulcer. Am I more likely to get stomach cancer?
- Will eating a healthy diet help me to prevent getting stomach cancer?
- My father had stomach cancer. Should I be tested for it?
- What is the best treatment for my stomach cancer?
- Will I be able to eat normally after my treatment?
- After my treatment, will I have to come back often to make sure my stomach cancer doesnt come back?
- During and after treatment, should I quit drinking alcohol?
Tests Your Gp Might Do
Your GP might check your blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.
You might need to give a sample of urine or a sample of poo , they will give you a sample pot to take away with you.
Depending on your symptoms your GP might do a general examination. They will feel for any areas that might be swollen or might not feel normal. And if you have any pain they will feel those areas.
They also listen to your chest to find out if it sounds normal. For example they can listen for signs of fluid collecting.
After your examination, your doctor might need to refer you to hospital for tests, such as a test to look inside your stomach . Or they might refer you directly to a specialist.
Ask your GP to explain if they dont think you need a referral or any tests. They might ask you to come back in a week or two if your symptoms continue. Go back if they change or get worse.
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What Is The Prognosis For People Who Have Stomach Cancer
The outlook for stomach cancer depends on the stage of the cancer. People in the early stages of stomach cancer have a much greater rate of survival than those at a later stage:
- If stomach cancer is found in its earliest stage and can be removed with an endoscope, the five-year survival rate is higher than 90 percent.
- If the cancer is found after it has spread to areas surrounding the stomach, the five-year survival rate is 28 percent.
- If the cancer has spread to areas beyond those surrounding the stomach, the five-year survival rate is 4 percent.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/17/2019.
Questions To Ask The Doctor
- Why do you think I have stomach cancer?
- Is there a chance I dont have stomach cancer?
- What type of stomach cancer do I have?
- What will happen next?
- Not feeling hungry, or losing weight without trying
- Feeling full after only a small meal
- Feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting
If you have symptoms that might be from stomach cancer, your doctor will ask you questions about them and do a physical exam. You might also be referred to a gastroenterologist , who might do more exams and tests.
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