Stomach cancer is a dangerous disease resulting from a malignant tumor growing on the inner walls of the stomach. The disease can develop in any part of the organ, and the causes of its occurrence are caused by multiple external and internal factors. Lack of timely diagnosis and treatment often leads to the death of the patient.
Causes of stomach cancer
Cancer is caused by cell mutation. This process may depend on several factors at once, which include:
- hereditary predisposition;
- frequent consumption of fatty, salty, spicy, and canned foods;
- chronic stomach diseases (ulcers, gastritis, polyps and others);
- undergone surgery on the stomach;
- poisoning with chemical and radioactive substances;
- prolonged vitamin deficiency;
- primary and secondary immunodeficiency states;
- alcoholism, smoking and drug use.
These factors do not cause cancer by themselves, but only lead to a precancerous state when the properties of the stomach cells change. Considering that a large number of people have chronic gastritis with low acidity, which manifests itself only from time to time, a cancerous tumor can form at any age, although people over 50 are more prone to it.
Initially, the size of the tumor does not exceed 2 cm, but gradually it grows in and out of the stomach. This leads to indigestion, obstructing the passage of food into the stomach and intestines. If the tumor is located near the esophagus, food may stop reaching the stomach altogether. In the future, neighboring organs begin to be affected - the pancreas and the large intestine.
Types and stages of stomach cancer
Depending on the differentiation of tumor cells, its localization and growth rate, various types of stomach cancer are distinguished:
- adenocarcinoma - the most common tumor, which is formed by the glandular cells of the gastric mucosa;
- signet ring cell carcinoma, characterized by diffuse growth, rapid development and metastasis of mutated cells, often occurs in women;
- infiltrative cancer - a tumor without clear boundaries that grows deep into the walls of the stomach and usually occurs at a young age;
- poorly differentiated cancer is a fast-growing tumor, around which an extensive inflammatory process and necrosis are formed. It almost always affects regional lymph nodes and even distant organs.
In addition, there are four clinical stages of cancer:
- The first stage is characterized by the small size of the tumor (up to 2 cm), located in the mucous and submucous layers of the stomach walls, without affecting or partially affecting the regional lymph nodes.
- At the second stage, the tumor begins to grow deep into the walls of the stomach and affects many regional nodes. Its size can be up to 15 cm.
- At the third stage, the tumor affects all the walls of the stomach, moving to distant lymph nodes, but so far not giving metastases to other organs.
- At the fourth stage, the tumor actively spreads to neighboring organs, has at least one metastasis.
Stomach cancer symptoms
In the initial stages of development, the tumor is usually asymptomatic. Gradually, the patient may develop the following signs of cancer:
- decreased appetite;
- the appearance of aversion to certain products;
- temperature increase;
- decrease in hemoglobin.
In the future, the symptoms become more and more noticeable and alarming. There is a feeling of heaviness after eating, sometimes turning into nausea and vomiting. Stool is disturbed. Pains appear in the upper abdomen, radiating to the sides and back, especially if the tumor begins to spread to the surrounding organs.Significant weight loss can occur with an unnatural increase in the size of the abdomen. Against the background of the destruction of blood vessels by the tumor, gastrointestinal bleeding is observed (blood impurities become noticeable in the vomit and feces)
It is worth noting that stomach cancer can form multiple metastases when cancer cells spread throughout the body in the flow of lymph and blood. This leads to the formation of new tumors. In stomach cancer, the liver and lymph nodes are at risk. The intestines, lungs, and other organs can also be affected. Metastases most often occur in the last stages of the disease, when it is almost impossible to save the patient. Timely diagnostics will help prevent this condition.
Diagnosis of stomach cancer
The first thing to do if you have digestive problems is to consult a gastroenterologist. This specialist will perform an initial examination of the patient, as well as conduct a survey to determine the characteristics of the existing problems. At the slightest suspicion of stomach cancer, the patient is sent for detailed diagnostics and additional examination at the oncology department. There are the following methods of detailed diagnostics of the stomach:
EGDS or gastroscopy, during which the doctor assesses the state of the gastric mucosa, and if suspicious areas are found, they are taken for a biopsy. Further histological examination of the obtained material reveals the benign or malignant nature of the tumor.
- a general blood test, due to which violations of protein metabolism and anemia in the body can be detected;
- CT scan;
- X-ray examination of the digestive tract;
- Abdominal ultrasound.
Stomach cancer treatment
The success of gastric cancer treatment largely depends on the stage of development of the tumor and its spread to neighboring organs. If there is a risk of metastases, a diagnostic laparoscopy of the peritoneum should be performed initially. At the earliest diagnosis of a tumor, an endoscopic operation is performed to remove it, which takes place quickly and safely for the patient.
Either way, surgical removal of the tumor remains the single most effective treatment for stomach cancer. In this case, both part of the organ and the entire stomach can be removed, which leads to the need for additional operations to restore the body's ability to receive and assimilate food. In some cases, in addition to the stomach, part of the spleen, intestines or liver is removed. Thus, surgical operations for stomach cancer are quite extensive and traumatic, which increases the risk of early death of the patient.
After the operation, as well as in case of impossibility of using the surgical method, radiation or chemotherapy is prescribed, which allows to reduce the size and growth of the tumor and, if successful, induce a stable remission of the cancer. Usually, several courses of chemotherapy are given using different combinations of drugs. In some cases, palliative chemotherapy is prescribed, aimed exclusively at short-term prolongation of the patient's life.
Stomach cancer prognosis
The outcome of the treatment carried out will depend on the stage of the cancer during which the therapeutic measures were initiated. With a small tumor and its concentration exclusively within the gastric mucosa, there are high chances of a successful operation and the transition of the disease into permanent remission.
There is also a cancer five-year survival rate, which is the percentage of patients who survive for five years after cancer is discovered. This is a fairly long period after suffering a serious illness, equating to recovery.Depending on the stage of the cancer, this indicator is as follows:
- Stage 1 - from 57 to 71%;
- Stage 2 - from 33 to 46%;
- Stage 3 - from 9 to 20%;
- Stage 4 - no more than 4%.