Stomach Cancer

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

Stomach (Gastric) problems often present without symptoms. This is because the stomach has a large reserve for any small insults. Often, these symptoms are not specific. Weight loss, feeling full early, vague symptoms (dyspepsia) and lethargy from low iron stores (anaemia) could be associated with stomach problems.

What is Stomach Cancer?

Like many major parts of the body, the stomach can have non-cancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) conditions. Benign conditions could range from ulcers of various causes to growths from polyps and the muscle wall (GIST) of the stomach. Malignant conditions can arise from lymph nodes (lymphoma), but more often they arise from the innermost covering of the stomach. These lining is known as the “mucosa”. These mucosal cancers are known as adenocarcinomas.

Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

Most times, the diagnosis is made on gastroscopy and biopsies. The cancer may or may not be obvious, and may appear as a non-healing stomach ulcer. Therefore the doctor may elect to repeat your gastroscopy after treatment of a stomach ulcer. Treatment of stomach ulcers may require removal of causative medication such as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) and eradication of H.Pylori bacteria.

What now that I have gastric cancer?

Once a diagnosis of gastric cancer is made, the second step is to undertake a “staging” process. This “staging” process essentially tells the surgeon its location and its extent or spread. This may take the form of a repeat endoscopy, CT-scans, staging laparoscopy and sometimes PET-scans. This allows a treatment plan that may include an operation. The location of the cancer on the stomach will determine the type of operation. Often chemotherapy and possibly radiotherapy may take place prior to surgery. After surgery, the course of chemotherapy is completed. Sometimes, an operation is not required. Sometimes an operation does not confer any benefit even-though it is technically possible. Sometimes an operation removing more than one organ (eg. pancreas or part of liver) may be required.

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