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Gastric Cancer

Gastric Cancer Causes

The cause of gastric cancer is not entirely known. However, it is closely associated with an infection of a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori. These bacteria proliferate deep within the mucous layer that coats the lining of the stomach, thus causing a chronic infection that may progress to gastric cancer. H. pylori transmission is not currently understood, although it is believed to be spread among humans by drinking contaminated water. In addition, gastric cancer has also been linked to the stomach's exposure to certain nitrates and nitrites, particularly preservatives in cured meats. When combined with nitrogen-containing substances in the stomach, these chemicals produce N-nitroso compounds, which are actually carcinogens that are known to cause gastric cancer. In addition, drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco may also trigger gastric cancer. Both tobacco and alcohol irritate the lining of the stomach, which may lead to development of cancerous tissue.

Gastric Cancer Definition

Gastric cancer pertains to cancer of the stomach. Adenocarcinomas, lymphomas, carcinoid tumors, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are the most common types of gastric cancer.

Gastric Cancer Diagnosis

To diagnose gastric cancer, a physician must first eliminate all other possible causes of the patient's symptoms. To confirm the diagnosis, the following steps may be done: an upper endoscopy to examine anomalies in the gastrointestinal tract; an X-ray of the stomach; an endoscopic ultrasound to determine the extent of the tumor; a CT (computerized tomography) scan; an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging); and in some cases, a chest X-ray to check if the cancer has infiltrated the lungs.

Gastric Cancer Symptoms and Signs

Microscopic internal bleeding is an early sign of gastric cancer; however, this can only be detected via lab tests. At the onset, an affected patient may experience exhaustion as a result of the internal bleeding, as well as suffer from heartburns and abdominal pain. In its more advanced form, the disease may manifest with the following symptoms: discomfort in the abdomen aggravated by eating; excretion of black stools; blood in the vomit; vomiting after meals; weakness; fatigue; unexplained weight loss; as well as a sensation of extreme fullness after meals even if eating was minimal.

Gastric Cancer Treatment

Gastric cancer may be completely removed through surgery, but the success of the surgery depends on how advanced the cancer has become. A subtotal or partial gastrectomy may be done to remove the cancerous cells. In addition, gastric cancer can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, antibiotics for H. pylori infections, as well as drug treatment to target symptoms.

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