Putting the Spotlight on Gastric Cancer

Spotlight on Gastric Cancer

If you know someone who has cancer of the stomach, then you have an idea of just how lethal this disease is. The word cancer alone is enough to trigger a special reaction among those who hear it, but when the word cancer is associated to a person we are close or are familiar with, everything changes.

Also known as gastric cancer, this type of cancer develops in the tissues that line the stomach. What makes this disease so dangerous is that, like many types of cancers, it is a silent killer. Many stomach cancer patients are diagnosed in the later stages of cancer, when it is too late to receive a treatment. To make matters worse, despite being unbelievably stealthy, gastric cancers are particularly aggressive. Prognosis can be very bad if discovered at a late stage.

What is Gastric Cancer?

Stomach cancer usually begins in the cells situated in the inner layer of the stomach. In some cases, and over time, the cancer begins to invade the inner depths of a patient’s inner stomach wall. A stomach tumor can also develop through the outer layer of the stomach, possibly affecting surrounding organs, including the liver, intestine, pancreas, and the esophagus, or intestine.

How Do Cancer Cells Spread?

Dangerous stomach cancer cells usually spread by breaking away from the original tumor, entering tiny pathways of the body, which are the blood or lymph vessels. When these happen, the cancerous cells are able to reach all the tissues of the body. They can either stay in the lymph nodes near the stomach or attach to other neighboring tissues and start developing new tumors that would damage the tissues. The spread of cancer to other areas of the body is called a metastasis.

Raising Awareness Can Change the Outcome

Like any cancer, awareness campaigns help spread information about the disease. The more people who know about stomach cancer, the better, because they can help reduce the chances of a late diagnosis.

Symptoms are most often ignored because people do not associate them with a possible cancer. Here are some of the most common stomach cancer symptoms:

  • Burping, indigestion, and acidity – These are some of the earliest symptoms of gastric cancer. Many of the people diagnosed with this disease have had this symptom for years. The only problem is that, they are symptoms of other stomach problems as well, so doctors and patients alike would have difficulties in distinguishing a chronic indigestion problem from gastric cancer.
  • Feeling of fullness – Another symptom that starts during the early stages is a feeling of fullness, sooner than when you usually are. If you start noticing that you are eating less over a specific period of time and starting to shed some pounds, try visiting the doctor for a routine checkup. Keep in mind other symptoms that you may have as well.
  • Vomiting blood and anemia – This is also associated with a feeling of breathlessness or lethargy. Some early stomach cancers begin to bleed into the stomach. Once this happens all too frequently, then it may cause anemia, which means your red blood cell count is now lower than normal. If the blood that comes with the vomiting is bright red, then the bleeding in the stomach is still fresh. If it looks close to a dark brown, resembling ground coffee, then it means the blood has been inside the stomach for quite a while already.
  • Blood clotting – Stomach cancer patients have a higher chance of developing blood clots. Watch out for any pain or swelling in your leg, as well as sudden chest pain and shortness of breath. This may mean a blood clot. Call a doctor immediately if you experience anything close to what was previously mentioned, as you will need immediate attention and anti-clotting medicines.
  • Fluid in the abdomen – Also called ascites, this condition occurs when a person has cancer in the advanced stage.
  • Blood in the stool – There are some gastric cancers that do not make you vomit, but instead let the blood out through the digestive system and out into your backside. Beware of black stool, almost like tar.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing the following symptoms, do not hesitate to contact a trusted healthcare provider in your area. You may also consult with the experienced doctors of New Hope Medical Center regarding holistic cancer treatments available.

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