During the early 20th century, stomach cancer used to be a major cause of mortality in the US. Over time, the number decreased significantly. Nevertheless, stomach cancer is still a cause for concern, especially for people of advanced age. According to statistics, 60% of those diagnosed with the illness are at least 65 years old.
How does stomach cancer develop?
Abnormal cells anywhere in the body can become cancerous. Over time, these cells develop a tumor or lesion. Stomach cancer slowly develops and will take years before any apparent symptoms begin to show. Usually, the condition starts in the stomach’s inner lining. However, since the stomach has several sections, varying symptoms often result in different cancer-related conditions and treatment options. The following are the different kinds of stomach cancer:
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor. This is a rare tumor that develops in the stomach’s cell wall. Some tumors end up cancerous, while others are benign.
- About 95% of all stomach cancers fall in this category. This type of cancer begins in the inner lining of the stomach or mucosa.
- Although not exactly stomach cancer, some lymphomas can develop in the immune tissue within the stomach’s cell wall.
- Carcinoid tumor. This tumor develops in the stomach cells that produce hormones. This type of stomach cancer is usually contained and doesn’t affect other organs.
Some types of cancer, such as small cell carcinoma, can also develop in the cells lining the stomach, although very rarely.
What are the risk factors and symptoms?
When it comes to cancer, understanding the risk factors helps in reducing the probability of contracting the illness. While some factors are controllable, others aren’t. For instance, smoking is a habit you can choose to stop. On the other hand, genetic predisposition, as well as age, are uncontrollable. It’s essential to keep in mind that having any or all of these factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will get stomach cancer within your lifetime.
For stomach cancer, a well-known risk factor is age and gender. It tends to affect individuals that are at least 65. It’s also more common in males than females. Another risk factor is getting infected with Helicobacter pylori bacteria. People who’ve had underlying conditions affecting the stomach are obese, smoke, and eat a poor diet are at a higher risk of getting stomach cancer.
Symptoms and treatment
According to the National Cancer Institute, stomach cancer doesn’t show early symptoms. Most of the time, the diagnosis happens when the illness is already at an advanced stage. Some generic symptoms associated with stomach cancer include vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and bloody stool.
Similar to other types of cancer, the treatment process may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. The treatment plan depends on which part of the stomach cancer developed, as well as the diagnosis stage.
There’s no definitive or proven method of preventing stomach cancer. However, a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet and avoiding bad habits like smoking all help reduce your risk of contracting the disease. It’s also essential to monitor your health, especially if there’s history in your family of a relative being diagnosed with stomach cancer.