Stomach cancer occurs when abnormal behaviors and mutations take place within cells. Cancerous cells spread and grow uncontrollably, quickly becoming a serious health concern. Even though there are treatments for stomach cancer, early detection is important for a good prognosis.
Key Indicators as Researched by Neil R. Sharma MD, Parkview Health Practitioner
Stomach cancer will aggressively move through the different layers of the stomach, and how far it has reached within the wall and through spread by lymph nodes and to other organs at the time of detection determines what stage of the process the cancer is in. Most stomach cancers (particularly “adenocarcinomas”) start in the mucosa layer of the stomach, which is the area that produces stomach acid. However, it is possible for other layers of the stomach wall to produce cancers as well. Examples are: gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and carcinoid tumors which are less common forms of stomach cancer.
Some of the symptoms commonly found in stomach cancer patients change as cancer progresses. For early-stage adenocarcinomas, it’s common to see:
- Poor appetite
As cancer grows and advances, Neil R. Sharma MD often notices signs like vomiting, bloody stool, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, belly pain and difficulty swallowing.
Diagnosing Stomach Cancer
Different tests are used to diagnose stomach cancer, particularly because of the multiple locations where it can grow. The cardia is the area of the stomach closest to the esophagus, while the fundus is considered the upper stomach. The main region of the stomach is called the corpus, and the antrum is where food is broken down. The final area is the pylorus, which is where the stomach connects to the intestines.
Since cancer can be evasive, one or more of the following tests would be recommended by Neil R. Sharma MD a Parkview Health Practitioner to understand what is going on.
- Blood tests
Generally, an endoscopy is an invasive test that can actually pinpoint where growths are. A scope is sent down into the stomach and images are captured for a doctor to more closely examine. Once these suspicious areas are noticed, a biopsy might be done to examine the nature of the cells in the growth. The procedure involves taking a sample of the abnormal cells or tissue to run a more thorough check for cancer.
Depending on the results of the tests, a patient may be recommended for surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
Seeing the Difference Between Normal Gastrointestinal Issues and Stomach Cancer
The symptoms of stomach cancer mimic signs of a stomach bug or an ulcer. Persistent problems that continue to worsen over time are an indication that something more serious than a virus is going on. There are other symptoms associated with gastrointestinal issues that come on more suddenly and subside with over-the-counter medications or diet changes. Neil R. Sharma MD, Fellow of the American College of gastroenterology and expert in gastrointestinal malignancies urges patients to be aware of symptoms, and those from Asian and Latino populations are at higher risk so should be particularly vigilant. Dr Sharma recommends bringing any concerns to your doctor right away.