What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer is characterized by an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the gastric mucosa. This uncontrollable cell growth occurs due to changes in the genetic material located in the cell nucleus, and this causes an increased and unrestricted cell division. The rapid cell division results in the formation of a growth/tumour of abnormal cells in the gastric mucosa. Abnormal cells that grow unrestrained cannot be reconstructed into healthy cells.
Benign tumours: Tumours which do not spread from the place of origin are referred to as benign tumours.
Malignant tumours: A different type of tumour are the malignant tumours which are significantly more severe and dangerous than the benign. The malignant tumours are able to spread to other parts of the body. This spreading often occurs through the blood or the lymphatic system, and the newly-emergent tumours are called ‘metastases’. When cancer cells begin to spread from their place of origin, the cancer becomes much more difficult to treat.
What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?
Symptoms of stomach cancer are often mild and insidious. Therefore, the symptoms are initially few to none, yet later you may experience:
- Vomiting occurring more than once per month – possibly containing blood from wounds in the stomach.
- Reduced appetite
- Anaemia (Loss of blood)
- Weight loss
- Long-term fever for no reason
- Bloating after meals
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
If you have experienced more of these symptoms for more than 3-4 weeks, consult a doctor. Of course, the above-mentioned symptoms may be present without it being cancer. However, if you have the slightest suspicion that you might suffer from stomach cancer, you should consult your doctor to be treated as early as possible, during the course of the disease. The earlier the disease is detected, the better is often the forecast.
What are the causes of stomach cancer?
The development of cancer is a result of cells growing uncontrollably without dying. The naturally occurring cells in the body all share the same fate, where they grow, divide and die. When normal cells die, it often happens through a mechanism referred to as ‘apoptosis’ or ‘programmed cell death’. Cancer cells have changed and are thereby able to avoid this programmed cell death, and therefore they are able to continue growing and dividing themselves, resulting in the formation of tumours from cancer cells.
Stomach cancer occurs when there is a change in the cell’s DNA (the genetic material), which makes it impossible for the cell to recover the damage and further makes it impossible for the cell to undergo programmed cell death. These changes are also called mutations and may occur based on a large number of events. However, mutations in connection with stomach cancer are associated with the ingestion of cancer-causing substances such as salt, smoked food and alcohol. In addition, the risk is increased by smoking. Which other things that may cause stomach cancer is still uncertain.
What are the treatments for stomach cancer?
In case of suspected stomach cancer, you will undergo a binocular examination of the stomach along with a tissue sample where the tissue will be examined for the presence of eventual abnormal cells.
In case of stomach cancer, operation is first and foremost necessary, and afterwards the treatment may be supplemented with chemotherapy. The operation consists in the removal of sick and damaged tissue from the stomach – or the entire stomach itself, depending on the tumour’s placement and spread. Training has a very positive effect as supplemental treatment against stomach cancer. It has been shown that exercise such as cycling, swimming, strength training and cardiovascular training helps improve our quality of life. Additionally, these lifestyle-related initiatives help against fatigue. Contrary, it has been proven that alcohol, smoking as well as spicy and smoked food increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.