What Happens If Youve Been Told Your Cancer Cannot Be Cured
If you have advanced stomach cancer, it might be very hard to treat. It may not be possible to cure the cancer.
If this is the case, the aim of your treatment will be to limit the cancer and its symptoms, and help you live longer.
Finding out the cancer cannot be cured can be very hard news to take in.
You will be referred to a special team of doctors and nurses called the palliative care team or symptom control team.
They will work with you to help manage your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable.
The clinical nurse specialist or palliative care team can also help you and your loved ones get any support you need.
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.
How Do You Get It
Although it is not known exactly how H. pylori enters the body, researchers believe that the spiral-shaped bacteria probably get into your body through your mouth. Then, they burrow into the mucus that lines your stomach.
You could pick up an H. pylori infection in several ways. The bug can be found in contaminated food or water. If a household member has H. pylori, it is more likely that others in the household also are infected. It has also been found in domesticated animals.
H. pylori is much more common in parts of the world where there’s poor sanitation, poverty, and overcrowding.
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Coping With Stomach Cancer
Many people feel worried, depressed, and stressed when dealing with cancer. Getting treatment for cancer can be hard on your mind and body. Keep talking with your healthcare team about any problems or concerns you have. Work together to ease the effect of cancer and its symptoms on your daily life.
Here are some tips:
- Talk with your family or friends.
- Ask your healthcare team or social worker for help.
- Speak with a counselor.
- Talk with a spiritual advisor, such as a minister or rabbi.
- Ask your healthcare team about medicines for depression or anxiety.
- Keep socially active.
- Join a cancer support group.
Cancer treatment is also hard on the body. To help yourself stay healthier, try to:
- Eat a healthy diet, with a focus on high-protein foods.
- Drink plenty of water, fruit juices, and other liquids.
- Keep physically active.
- Rest as much as needed.
- Talk with your healthcare team about ways to manage treatment side effects.
- Take your medicines as directed by your team.
Living With Advanced Cancer
Advanced cancer usually means cancer that is unlikely to be cured. Some people can live for many months or years with advanced cancer. During this time palliative care services can help.
Most people continue to have treatment for advanced cancer as part of palliative care, as it helps manage the cancer and improve their day-to-day lives. Many people think that palliative care is for people who are dying but palliative care is for any stage of advanced cancer. There are doctors, nurses and other people who specialise in palliative care.
Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy or another type of treatment. It can help in these ways:
- Slow down how fast the cancer is growing.
- Shrink the cancer.
- Help you to live more comfortably by managing symptoms, like pain.
Treatment depends on:
- How far it has spread.
- Your general health.
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You Don’t Really Have An Appetite
Loss of appetite is definitely something to pay attention tosay, if youve always been a foodie and now suddenly youve lost all interest in eatingand its a good idea to get checked out by a GI doctor, says Ocean.
Ulcers, however, can also cause a loss of appetite , but ulcers are also a risk factor for stomach cancer, so it’s smart to get checked out regardless.
4. You have awful heartburn.
Heartburn is kind of complicated, says Ocean, in that it can both be a sign of cancer and also a risk factor for it. People with heartburn may have a peptic ulcer, which means they have more acid in their stomachs, which puts them at a higher risk for stomach cancer, says Ocean.
Heartburn can manifest as the telltale burning sensation, nausea, or even chest pain, so its not always easy to self-diagnose. If youve been popping antacids for weeks on the regular, get yourself checked out.
What Are The Treatment Options For Stage 4 Stomach Cancer
Stage 4 stomach cancer is harder to treat than earlier stage stomach cancer. Thats because its no longer confined to the stomach and may involve several distant organs. Its usually not curable, but its certainly treatable.
The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms and control the cancers growth. Your doctor will recommend therapies based on your age and overall health, including any other health conditions you may have. Your options also depend on specific characteristics of the cancer.
Treatment for cancer usually involves a combination of therapies. Your treatment plan can be adjusted based on how well its working. Tell your doctor if you have new symptoms along the way so they can be factored in.
Some treatments for stage 4 stomach cancer are:
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What Are Symptoms Of Gastric Cancer
Stomach cancer may not cause any symptoms in its earlier stages. Some symptoms of stomach cancer, such as early satiety , mild belly pain and fatigue are common, and similar tosymptoms of other, less serious conditions.
However, some symptoms are more suggestive of stomach cancer. If you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, you should see a gastroenterologist:
Other diagnostic procedures include endoscopy with biopsy and endoscopic ultrasound.
How Is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed
Doctors typically don’t do routine screening for stomach cancer. That’s mainly because it’s not that common, so getting extra tests often isn’t helpful. In fact, the number of stomach cancer cases has declined over the past 60 years.
If you’re at higher risk for it though, talk to your doctor to see how to keep an eye out for it. You may get some of the same tests that you would get if you had symptoms and were looking for a diagnosis.
To find out if you have stomach cancer, your doctor starts with a physical exam. They’ll also ask about your medical history to see if you have any risk factors for stomach cancer or any family members whoâve had it. Then, they might give you some tests, including:
- Blood tests to look for signs of cancer in your body.
- Upper endoscopy. Your doctor will put a thin, flexible tube with a small camera down your throat to look into your stomach.
- Upper GI series test. Youâll drink a chalky liquid with a substance called barium. The fluid coats your stomach and makes it show up more clearly on X-rays.
- CT scan.This is a powerful X-ray that makes detailed pictures of the inside of your body.
- Biopsy.Your doctor takes a small piece of tissue from your stomach to look at under a microscope for signs of cancer cells. They might do this during an endoscopy.
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Feeling And Being Sick
Stomach cancer can cause a blockage in the stomach. This stops food from passing through your digestive symptom which can make you feel or be sick.
Rarely, there is blood in the vomit. You may not be able to see any blood if it is small amounts. The blood might be bright red, which means it is fresh bleeding. Or it may look dark brown, like used coffee grounds, if the blood has been in the stomach for a while.
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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How Is Gerd Treated
GERD is managed with lifestyle modifications such as avoiding late-night noshing, eating big meals, or lying down immediately after meals, Dr. Alexander says. You also treat it with medications to block acid,” he adds. “Antacids are a short-term way to bind things up and H2- blockers work to prevent acid secretion for 8 to 12 hours. Proton-pump inhibitors are the strongest acid-blocking drugs. We can also do esophageal-reflux surgery where we wrap some muscle around the bottom of the esophagus and the top of the stomach to make a new valve.
How Does My Doctor Know I Have Stomach Cancer
Q: What do I do if I think I have stomach cancer?A: If there is any reason to suspect stomach cancer, your doctor will ask you questions about risk factors and symptoms and do a complete physical exam. The doctor will feel your abdomen to see if there are any abnormal changes. You may need to have some tests done to find out what’s going on.
Tests that may be done to find stomach cancer
Q: How is stomach cancer diagnosed?A: Doctors often divide stomach cancers into 2 groups. Resectable cancers are those the doctor thinks can be completely removed during surgery. Unresectable cancers are those that can’t be completely removed. This might be because the tumor has grown into nearby structures or lymph nodes. Or it may have grown too close to major blood vessels, or has spread to distant parts of the body.
Q: What is the staging of stomach cancer?A: Staging is the process of finding out how far the cancer has spread. This is very important because the treatment and the outlook for your recovery depend on the stage of the cancer. After stage 0 , stages are labeled using Roman numerals I through IV . As a rule, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, such as stage IV , means a more serious cancer.
After looking at your test results, the doctor will tell you the stage of your cancer. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain your stage in a way you understand. This will help you both decide on the best treatment for you.
- Endoscopic mucosal resection
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Signs And Symptoms Of Stomach Cancer
Early-stage stomach cancer rarely causes symptoms. In countries where screening for stomach cancer is not routine, such as the United States, most stomach cancers arent found until theyve grown fairly large or have spread outside the stomach.
When stomach cancer does cause signs and symptoms, they can include:
- Poor appetite
- Vague discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel
- Feeling full after eating only a small meal
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Vomiting, with or without blood
- Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Blood in the stool
- Feeling tired or weak, as a result of having too few red blood cells
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes , if the cancer spreads to the liver
Most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by things other than stomach cancer, such as a viral infection or an ulcer. Some of these symptoms may also be caused by other types of cancer. But people who have any of these problems, especially if they dont go away or get worse, should see a doctor so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Ku GY, Ilson DH. Chapter 72: Cancer of the Stomach. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloffs Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier 2020.
Having Another Type Of Cancer
For men, the risk of getting stomach cancer is increased after having prostate cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer or testicular cancer. For women, the risk of developing stomach cancer increases after having ovarian cancer, breast cancer or cervical cancer.
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Why Is My Stomach Beating
Youre most likely just feeling your pulse in your abdominal aorta. Your aorta is the main artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. It runs from your heart, down the center of your chest, and into your abdomen. Its normal to feel blood pumping through this large artery from time to time.
What Is Stomach Cancer
Cancer can start any place in the body. Stomach cancer starts in the stomach. It starts when cells in the stomach grow out of control and crowd out normal cells. This makes it hard for the body to work the way it should.
Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body. For example, cancer cells in the stomach can sometimes travel to the liver and grow there. When cancer cells do this, its called metastasis. To doctors, the cancer cells in the new place look just like the ones from the stomach.
Cancer is always named based on the place where it starts. So when stomach cancer spreads to the liver , its still called stomach cancer. Its not called liver cancer unless it starts from cells in the liver.
Ask your doctor to show you where your cancer is.
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When Do Signs And Symptoms First Appear
Typically, cancer signs and symptoms first appear when the cancerous tumor or mass has grown large enough that it begins to push against nearby organs and tissue, blood vessels, and nerves.
This can lead to pain, a change in how the nearby organs function, or both. A brain tumor pressing against the optic nerve will affect vision, for example.
Some cancers are fast moving, such as liver and pancreatic cancers. Prostate cancer, however, is usually slow moving. This is why many older men with prostate cancer forego treatment theyre more likely to die with prostate cancer than because of it.
Screenings for certain cancers should be part of your normal preventive healthcare. These include cancers of the:
Your age, sex, family history, and your own medical history will dictate when routine screenings should begin and how often they should be done.
If youre concerned about symptoms associated with various cancers, then you shouldnt hesitate to see your doctor. You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.
What Is An Abdominal Tumor
An abdominal tumor is an irregular mass of abnormal cells that is located in the middle of the body, including the stomach, abdominal wall, and parts of the intestines. They can be either benign, which is usually slow growing and harmless malignant, which is cancerous or pre-malignant, which could turn into cancer. The causes, symptoms, and treatment for these growths can vary greatly, but cancers related to this area often have a poorer prognosis than many other types. Common types of intra-abdominal masses include kidney, colon, pancreatic, bladder, neuroblastoma, and ovarian tumors, as well as cysts and abscesses.
Tumors in the abdomen usually don’t create many obvious symptoms, especially when they’re in the early stages. If the mass grows or spreads, a person may experience swelling and pain, diarrhea, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, bad breath, and digestive problems. A malignancy may also cause fatigue, fever, and blood in the stool. Some types of tumors have more specific symptoms associated with them: for instance, people with liver masses often become jaundiced, and those with ovarian tumors may have painful menstruation or pain during intercourse. Likewise, those with bladder growths may have a hard time urinating, and those with kidney cysts often have high blood pressure.
Causes and Risk Factors
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What Are The Symptoms Of Stomach Cancer
Gastric cancer presents differently, Dr. Alexander says. The usual presentation is with nausea, weight loss, and upper abdominal pain. Symptoms of more advanced stomach cancer can include vomiting, stomach pain, weakness, frequent burping, jaundice, fluid buildup in the abdomen, and trouble swallowing. If youve got something down in the pit of the stomach that is present 24/7 or continual pain in the abdomen, these symptoms suggest gastric cancer.