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Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths and the sixth most common cancer that affects the stomach. The stomach is part of the digestive system, which processes nutrients in foods. It can affect the digestive process and prevent it from absorbing necessary minerals.

Gastric cancer occurs when the cells in the stomach lining start mutating and turn malignant. The stomach lining has five layers of tissues, which are mucosa, submucosa, subserosa and serosa. Gastric cancer begins in the mucosa and can spread into the other layers as it grows.

Symptoms:

In the early stages, gastric cancer may cause no signs or symptoms. Most symptoms occur when cancer has advanced and start to interfere with the digestive process. Common symptoms that might indicate the advancement of gastric cancer are:

  • Indigestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dysphagia
  • Postprandial fullness
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Melena or pallor from anaemia
  • Hematemesis
    • If one has any of these symptoms for more than a week, they should make an appointment with our doctors.

      Causes:

      Gastric cancer is caused when cells in the stomach lining start to mutate and turn malignant. As cells become cancerous, they continue to grow and divide and form a tumour.

      Risk factors:

      The exact causes of cell mutation are unknown. However, several diseases and lifestyle choices can significantly increase the risk of gastric cancer, which are:

      • Ageing
      • Low fibre diet
      • Smoking
      • Chronic gastritis
      • Stomach infections
      • Pernicious anaemia
      • Gastric polyps

      Diagnosis:

      Our doctor will perform various tests if they suspect gastric cancer or to rule out other digestive problems. They may use one or more of the following tests:

      • Physical examination: Our doctor will examine the patient and their medical history for the symptoms, such as lumps or abnormalities.
      • Blood tests: Our doctors will take a blood sample to check for cancer markers and to measure the number of blood cells, haemoglobin and platelets.
      • Imaging tests: Our doctors will perform an X-ray, CT scan or MRI to assess the cancer size and growth.
      • Endoscopy: Our doctors will insert an endoscope through the mouth to look inside the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum for any abnormalities.
      • Biopsy: Our doctors will remove a tissue sample from the stomach and test it for cancerous growth.

      Based on the diagnosis, gastric cancer can be categorized into five stages:

      • In stage 0, the cancer is in the early phase, contained in the stomach lining.
      • In stage 1, cancer has spread into other the lining but hasn’t reached the lymph nodes.
      • In stage 2, cancer has reached the layer of stomach muscles and lymph nodes.
      • In stage 3, cancer has spread into the nearby organs and other parts of the digestive system.
      • In stage 4, cancer has spread beyond the stomach and to the other part of the body.

      Treatment:

      Based on the diagnosis, possible complications and the patient’s preference, our doctors will recommend the most-effective treatment option for gastric cancer. It can include:

      Surgery:

      Surgery is the most-effective treatment in all stages of gastric cancer. Our doctors will surgically remove the tumour and the surrounding tissues, ensuring a more positive outcome and low recurrence rate.

      Depending on the cancer size, location and growth, our surgeons may perform various type of surgeries, which are:

      • Endoscopic mucosal resection to remove precancerous polyps from the digestive tract through an endoscope.
      • Subtotal gastrectomy to remove cancer and the surrounding tissues.
      • Total gastrectomy to remove the entire stomach along with the tumour.
      • Esophagogastrectomy to remove the tumours from the gastroesophageal junction.

      Chemotherapy:

      In chemotherapy, our doctors will use a group of drugs to stop cancer from spreading. Cancer cells absorb the drugs faster than normal cells, thus slowing their growth. These drugs can be delivered through a vein or a catheter, depending on the stage of cancer.

      Radiation therapy:

      Our surgeon will use controlled radiation to damage or destroy the DNA of cancer cells. Our radiation oncologist will use a machine to direct the energy beams on the cancer cells. It can be used in combination with chemotherapy if surgery isn’t an option.

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