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Stomach Cancer Post 1

by Daniel on August 9th, 2011

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 21,500 Americans will be diagnosed with stomach cancer in the year 2000. About 13,000 deaths will occur from this cancer. Most of the people diagnosed with stomach cancer will be in their 60’s and 70’s.

Stomach cancer is still relatively rare in the United States, but it is a major cause of death worldwide. The cancer is more common in other countries, especially Japan, Central Europe, Scandinavia, Hong Kong, Central and South America, China, Korea, and other parts of Asia.

The stomach is part of the digestive system and is divided into five different sections. The upper part that is closest to the esophagus is called the proximal stomach. Cells in this portion produce acid and a digestive enzyme called pepsin, which make up the digestive juices needed to break down food. The lower part of the stomach is called the distal stomach and is closest to the intestine. It includes the antrum, where the food mixes with the digestive juices, and the pylorus, which is the valve that controls the emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine.

Stomach cancer (or gastric cancer) can develop in any part of the stomach and may then spread to other areas of the stomach and other organs, including the liver, pancreas, colon, lungs, and ovaries. The cancer is thought to develop slowly over many years, with pre-cancerous changes occurring first in the lining of the stomach. These early changes do not usually produce symptoms, so the cancer goes undetected.

Symptoms

Since there are often no symptoms in the early stages of stomach cancer, the cancer has often spread before it is detected. Stomach cancer can cause:

* Indigestion or heartburn
* Discomfort or pain in the abdomen
* Nausea and vomiting
* Diarrhea or constipation
* Bloating of the stomach after meals
* Loss of appetite
* Weakness and fatigue
* Bleeding (vomiting blood or blood in the stools)

Of course, any of these symptoms can be caused by less serious health problems, such as a stomach virus or ulcer. A specialist, called a gastroenterologist, should be consulted to rule out other problems and make a definite diagnosis.

Diagnosis

Certain tests must be done to diagnose stomach cancer. These include the fecal occult blood test (to look for blood in the stool), an upper GI series (also called a barium swallow), and an endoscopy (a tube is put down the throat into the stomach to look for abnormal areas). Biopsies may be taken during an endoscopy and the tissue is then examined for cancer cells.

From → Cancer

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