Stages Of Stomach Cancer
About 90 to 95 percent of all stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas that start in the mucosa, the innermost stomach lining.
Intestinal adenocarcinomas have a better prognosis and may respond to targeted therapy. Diffuse adenocarcinomas spread more quickly and are difficult to treat but are less common.
Most stomach cancers start in the innermost layer of the stomach wall called the mucosa. Doctors use the TNM system to stage stomach cancer.
T stands for tumor, N stands for node and M stands for metastasis. Doctors evaluate how deeply the main tumor has spread , if the tumor has reached lymph nodes and if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body . They then stage each tumor from Stage 0 to Stage IV based on the TNM system.
Stage IIA cancers have three possible conditions.
They may have:
- Spread into the submucosa and three to six lymph nodes, or
- Spread into the stomach muscle layer and one or two lymph nodes, or
- Spread into the subserosa with no lymph node involvement.
They may have:
- Spread into the submucosa and seven to 15 nearby lymph nodes, or
- Spread to the muscle layer and three to six nearby lymph nodes, or
- Spread to the subserosa and to one or two nearby lymph nodes, or
- Spread to the serosa and spread to one to six nearby lymph nodes.
Bloating Diarrhea And Constipation
It makes sense that a cancer growing in your stomach could make you feel bloated, or mess with your bowel movements. While each of these symptoms is never going to scream stomach cancer! to a doctor, experiencing them with some of the other issues on this list could lead to cancer-related follow-up testing if your doctor cant pinpoint another explanation.
Common Early Signs Of Stomach Cancer
More than 7 in 100,000 people are diagnosed with 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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What Happens At The Gp Appointment
The GP may feel your tummy.
They may ask you to give a poo or pee sample, or have a blood test.
The GP may refer you to see a specialist in hospital for more tests if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated.
This may be an urgent referral, usually within 2 weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.
Can You Feel A Stomach Tumor
You may not be able to feel the tumor because the mass of stomach cancer develops slowly. However, an abdominal mass related to a stomach tumor is most often felt during a routine physical exam by the doctor. A hard lump in the abdomen during a routine physical examination accompanied by pain, unexplained weight loss, or an enlarged belly are usually considered symptoms of a stomach tumor. In the early stages of stomach cancer, the following symptoms may occur:
- Indigestion and stomach discomfort
In more advanced stages of gastric cancer, the following signs and symptoms may occur:
- Blood in the stool
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How Can I Prevent Stomach Cancer
Treat stomach infections. If you have ulcers from an H. pylori infection, get treatment. Antibiotics can kill the bacteria, and other drugs will heal the sores in the lining of your stomach to cut your risk of cancer.
Eat healthy. Get more fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate every day. Theyâre high in fiber and in some vitamins that can lower your cancer risk. Avoid very salty, pickled, cured, or smoked foods like hot dogs, processed lunch meats, or smoked cheeses. Keep your weight at a healthy level, too. Being overweight or obese can also raise your risk of the disease.
Donât smoke. Your stomach cancer risk doubles if you use tobacco.
American Cancer Society: “Can Stomach Cancer Be Found Early,” “Treatment Choices by Type and Stage of Stomach Cancer,” “Chemotherapy for Stomach Cancer,” “Radiation Therapy for Stomach Cancer,” “Targeted Therapies for Stomach Cancer.”
Mayo Clinic: “Stomach Cancer.”
Who Is More Likely To Get Stomach Cancer
Anyone can get stomach cancer. Its not always clear what causes it.
You might be more likely to get it if you:
- are over the age of 50
- are a man
- have certain stomach conditions, such as long-term, severe acid reflux, gastritis or a condition called pernicious anaemia, which affects your immune system
- have a brother, sister or parent who had stomach cancer
Many stomach cancers are also linked to lifestyle.
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What Is Stomach Cancer
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can then spread to other areas of the body. To learn more about cancer and how it starts and spreads, see What Is Cancer?
Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, begins when cells in the stomach start to grow out of control.
Certain Factors Affect Prognosis And Treatment Options
The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage of the cancer .
- The patients general health.
When gastric cancer is found very early, there is a better chance of recovery. Gastric cancer is often in an advanced stage when it is diagnosed. At later stages, gastric cancer can be treated but rarely can be cured. Taking part in one of the clinical trials being done to improve treatment should be considered. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI website.
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Sexuality And Stomach Cancer
Having stomach cancer and treatment can change the way you feel about yourself, other people, relationships and sex. These changes can be very upsetting and hard to talk about. Doctors and nurses are very understanding and can give you support. You can ask for a referral to a counsellor or therapist who specialises in body image, sex and relationships.
Early Stage Stomach Cancer Symptoms
It is common for people with early stage stomach cancer to experience no symptoms. However, as stomach cancer grows and spreads, it exhibits some telltale signs and symptoms, even while still in the early stages.
Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain or vague pain just above the belly button area
- Indigestion, heartburn or vomiting
- Loss of or decrease in appetite
- Weakness or fatigue
- Blood in vomit or stool
- A feeling of fullness after small meals
Many symptoms of early stage stomach cancer are also the symptoms of less serious stomach issues. If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, it is important to see your doctor. The earlier we diagnose the cancer, the more successfully we can treat it.
Gastric Cancer Care At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute
If you are experiencing symptoms of stomach cancer on a regular basis, or if they have been present for more than a few days, it may be time to visit your primary care physician. Additionally, if you have severe stomach pain, bleeding, or quality of life concerns, schedule an appointment. They can run some tests to see whats causing the symptoms. In many cases, it can be something simple like acid reflux or another non-cancerous condition. If you get diagnosed with stomach cancer youll need to select a medical oncologist who can help create your treatment plan.
The specialists at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute provide treatment plans specific to each patients needs. We also provide second opinions on treatment plans. Request an appointment with the location closest to you in the Willamette Valley area including Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Florence, Lincoln City, and Newport, Oregon.
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.
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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.
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.
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Cancer May Spread From Where It Began To Other Parts Of The Body
- Lymph system. The cancer gets into the lymph system, travels through the lymph vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
- Blood. The cancer gets into the blood, travels through the blood vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if gastric cancer spreads to the liver, the cancer cells in the liver are actually gastric cancer cells. The disease is metastatic gastric cancer, not liver cancer.
How To Lower Your Risk
As a society, we eat a lot of processed and unhealthy foods that cause these benign symptoms that we have. We really need to shift back to a cleaner, mostly plant-based diet, says Dr. El-Hayek. Theres no doubt that the data supports a diet thats rich in fresh vegetables, minimal fruit and minimal meat, especially processed meat. Avoiding these toxic foods will not only decrease a persons risk for cancer development, but also the digestive symptoms from eating them.
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.
Blood In Stool Or Vomiting
Colitis and Crohns disease can also be the reason behind blood in stool but this may also indicate that you are having cancer. If the bleeding appears to be maroon or tarry black in your stool, it can be a sign of cancer or if you found bright red blood having a coarse coffee grounds in your vomit, it may also reflect you are suffering from stomach cancer. If you see blood in your poop or in your vomiting then you should consult it with your doctor.
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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.
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
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After A Diagnosis Of Stomach Cancer
After being diagnosed with a stomach cancer, you may feel shocked, upset, anxious or confused. These are normal responses. A diagnosis of a stomach or oesophageal cancer affects each person differently. For most it will be a difficult time, however some people manage to continue with their normal daily activities.
You may find it helpful to talk about your treatment options with your doctors, family and friends. Ask questions and seek as much information as you feel you need. It is up to you as to how involved you want to be in making decisions about your treatment.
Learn more about best stomach cancer care:
You Dont 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 its 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.
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Diagnosis Of Stomach Cancer
If your doctor thinks you may have stomach cancer, you will be referred for further tests. The main test is an endoscopy . The doctor will use a thin, flexible tube with a camera , which passes into the mouth, down the throat and oesophagus into the stomach in order to look at the digestive tract.
If any suspicious-looking areas are detected, a small amount of tissue from the stomach lining may be removed and examined under a microscope. Less commonly used is an endoscopic ultrasound where the endoscope has an ultrasound probe at the end.