Monday, June 24, 2024

How You Know If You Have Stomach Cancer

Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Lungs

Everything you need to know about stomach cancer by Dr. Deep Goel

You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread into the lungs:

  • a cough that doesnt go away

Symptoms if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes

Lymph nodes are part of a system of tubes and glands in the body that filters body fluids and fights infection.

Cancer can spread to:

  • close by lymph nodes in the tummy these are called regional lymph nodes
  • lymph nodes further away, for example close to your collar bone these are called distant lymph nodes

The symptoms you have depend on which lymph nodes contain cancer. The most common symptom is the lymph node feels hard or swollen. Swollen lymph nodes in the chest can make it difficult to swallow. You might have severe upper abdominal pain that moves into your back if you have cancer in the lymph nodes in the back of your abdomen.

Symptoms if cancer spreads to the tissue lining your abdomen

You might have a swollen tummy if your cancer has spread to the tissue lining your abdomen . The swelling is due to a build up of fluid called ascites. It can make your clothes feel tighter. Your tummy might feel bloated. You might also find it difficult to sit comfortably or to move around.

The swelling caused by the build up of fluid can be uncomfortable. You may have other symptoms such as:

  • loss of appetite

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.

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Heartburn Or Acid Reflux

Similarly, heartburn is more often related to conditions like acid reflux and GERD but can also signify stomach cancer. The bacteria H. pyloriis not only linked to GERD and peptic ulcers but significantly increases the risk of stomach cancer.

On the flip side, chronic acid reflux can lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagitis which, in turn, increases the risk of esophageal cancer.

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Blood In The Stool Or Vomit

This is not a sure sign of stomach cancer. Bleeding is rare and can also be caused by other noncancerous conditions. However, when tumor bleeding occurs, you may notice blood in your stool or vomit. The blood may be dark red or dark brown depending on how long it has been in the stomach.

Even when present in small amounts, blood in either your vomit or stool requires a visit to the doctor.

What To Do Before Treatment Starts

How Do You Know You Have Gastric Cancer : Stomach Cancer Possible ...

Before you start your treatment it is recommended you:

  • Improve diet and nutrition people with stomach cancer often lose a lot of weight and can become malnourished. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian for advice on how to slow down the weight loss. This will help improve your strength, reduce side effects, and may mean the treatment works better.
  • Stop smoking if you smoke, aim to quit before starting treatment. If you keep smoking, you may not respond as well to treatment. For support, see your doctor or call Quit
  • Begin or continue an exercise program exercise will help build up your strength for recovery. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about the right type of exercise for you.

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Who Might Get Stomach Cancer

You may have more risk for getting stomach cancer if you are old, if you are a man, if you smoke cigarettes, if you drink a lot of alcohol, or if you eat a lot of pickled or salty foods. Certain groups of people such as blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics also may have an increased risk. Your chance of getting stomach cancer is higher if you have had an infection in your stomach caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori.

How To Tell If Your Symptoms Are Serious

Most of the time, these symptoms are caused by something else, but its best to get them checked out, so if you do need treatment, you can get it as soon as possible.

If you experience nausea, bloating, weight loss and lack of appetite, Dr. Joyce recommends you see your doctor for testing.

Other factors can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer, too, like:

  • Helicobacter pylori infection.
  • A diet high in smoked foods, salted fish and cured meats.
  • A family history.

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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.

What Are Stomach Cancer Treatments

Stomach Cancer – All Symptoms

Many treatments can fight stomach cancer. The one you and your doctor choose will depend on how long youve had the disease or how much it has spread in your body, called the stage of your cancer:

Stage 0. This is when the inside lining of your stomach has a group of unhealthy cells that may turn into cancer. Surgery usually cures it. Your doctor may remove part or all of your stomach, as well as nearby lymph nodes small organs that are part of your bodys germ-fighting system.

Stage I. At this point, you have a tumor in your stomachs lining, and it may have spread into your lymph nodes. As with stage 0, youll likely have surgery to remove part or all of your stomach and nearby lymph nodes. You might also get chemotherapy or chemoradiation. These treatments can be used before surgery to shrink the tumor and afterward to kill any cancer thats left.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to attack cancer cells. Chemoradiation is chemo plus radiation therapy, which destroys cancer cells with beams of high energy.

Stage II. Cancer has spread into deeper layers of the stomach and maybe into nearby lymph nodes. Surgery to remove part or all of your stomach, as well as nearby lymph nodes, is still the main treatment. Youre very likely to get chemo or chemoradiation beforehand, and you might get one of them after, too.

You usually have surgery to remove your entire stomach, along with chemo or chemoradiation. This can sometimes cure it. If not, it can at least help with symptoms.

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Family Planning Might Take More Preparation

Because thyroid cancer can occur before or during childbearing years, if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, you should talk to your health care professional about adjusting your thyroid medication to prepare your body for pregnancy.

“This is an important conversation I have with women who have thyroid conditions,” says Dr. Castro. She adds that while your chances of becoming pregnant won’t necessarily be affected by thyroid medication, your medication dose will need to change during pregnancy, as low thyroid hormone levels could affect your baby’s development.

Thyroid cancer treatments also can affect your family planning timeline. Men who receive radioactive iodine treatment might have decreased sperm counts or infertility for up to two years, according to the American Thyroid Association. While there’s no evidence to suggest that radioactive iodine can cause infertility in women, it’s recommended that women wait six months to one year after treatment before becoming pregnant.

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 theres poor sanitation, poverty, and overcrowding.

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Prognosis And Survival Rates Of Stomach Cancer

When someone is diagnosed with stomach cancer, their doctor will give them a prognosis. A prognosis is the doctors opinion of how likely it is that the cancer will spread and the chances of getting better. A prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the persons age and general health.

Generally, the earlier stomach cancer is diagnosed the better the chances of successful treatment. If the cancer is found after it has spread from the stomach, the prognosis is not usually as good.

If you have stomach cancer, your doctor will talk to you about your individual situation when working out your prognosis. Every persons experience is different, and there is support available to you.

Gastric Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Lining Of The Stomach

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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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The Ajcc Tnm Staging System

The staging system most often used for stomach cancer is the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM system, which was last updated in 2018.

This system is used to stage all stomach cancers except those starting in the gastroesophageal junction or those that start in the cardia and are growing into the gastroesophageal junction. Those cancers are staged like cancers of the esophagus. Other types of cancer that can start in the stomach, such as gastrointestinal stromal tumors and lymphomas, are staged differently as well.

The TNM system for stomach cancer is based on 3 key pieces of information:

The T category describes the extent of the main tumor, including how far it has grown into the layers of the stomach wall and if it has reached nearby structures or organs.

The 5 layers of the stomach wall include:

  • Mucosa: the innermost layer, where nearly all stomach cancers start. The mucosa has 3 parts: epithelial cells, a layer of connective tissue , and a thin layer of muscle .
  • Submucosa: a supporting layer under the mucosa
  • Muscularis propria: a thick layer of muscle that moves and mixes the stomach contents
  • Serosa: the outer, wrapping layer of the stomach

The N category describes any cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes.

The M category describes any spread to distant parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.

Numbers or letters after T, N, and M provide more details about each of these factors. Higher numbers mean the cancer is more advanced.

How Serious Is My Cancer

If you have stomach cancer, the doctor will want to find out how far it has spread to help decide what type of treatment is best for you. This is called the stage of the cancer. The tests above are used to help stage the cancer.

The stage describes the growth or spread of the cancer in the stomach or into nearby areas. It also tells if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body that are farther away.

Your cancer can be stage 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number means the cancer has spread more. Be sure to ask the doctor about the cancer stage and what it means for you.

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/13risk Factors Of Gastric Cancer

The majority of people diagnosed with the condition tend to be over 60 years of age. One of the major risk factors of stomach cancer is your diet. A diet high in salty, smoked and pickled foods and a diet low in fruits and vegetables can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer.

Risk factors for the condition also include a history of persistent stomach irritation or inflammation, previous stomach surgery, or a family history of the disease. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, obesity and smoking can also increase ones chances of gastric cancer.

Total Gastrectomy Or Oesophagogastrectomy

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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.

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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

Positron Emission Tomography Scan

A PET scan can be useful to help determine the extent of the cancer in the body. For this test, you are injected with a slightly radioactive form of sugar, which collects mainly in cancer cells. A special camera is then used to create a picture of areas of radioactivity in the body. The picture is not detailed like a CT or MRI scan, but a PET scan can look for possible areas of cancer spread in all areas of the body at once.

Many newer machines can do both a PET and CT scan at the same time . This lets the doctor see areas that âlight upâ on the PET scan in more detail.

Although PET scans can be useful for finding areas of cancer spread, they arenât always helpful in certain kinds of stomach cancer because some types donât take up much of the radioactive sugar.

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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.

When To Call Your Doctor

What Symptoms Of Cancer In The Stomach / Gastric Stomach Cancer ...

If your symptoms persist, dont hesitate to see your doctor.

Your doctor will do a comprehensive evaluation and ask about your family history to determine whether further investigation is required, says Dr. Joyce.

If more testing is needed, there are a few options available:

  • An upper endoscopy. A thin tube with a tiny camera attached is inserted through your mouth and into your stomach. A biopsy, or sample of tissue, of any areas in question will be taken.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound. A thin tube with an ultrasound probe is placed in your stomach through your mouth. By getting a visual of your stomach, your doctor can help determine the stage of your cancer.
  • CT scan or MRI. If the tumor is large enough, these radiologic tests will detect it.

To treat stomach cancer, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation. Surgery is an option, but your doctor may opt for other routes first. Some very early gastric cancers can be treated endoscopically , too, but thats a rare situation in the U.S.

Theres significant potential for spread of cancer to other areas, says Dr. Joyce. So, we often recommend chemotherapy before proceeding with a surgery.

Are there ways to lower your risk?

But dont panic if your gastrointestinal system seems to be acting weird.

Most of the time, GI symptoms are not from stomach cancer they have benign causes, assures Dr. Joyce. Our gastrointestinal systems are quite fickle sometimes.

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