Gastric diseases may be uncomfortable and nauseating; however, gastric cancers are one of the most debilitating ailments.
Let us understand it from a quick comparison. Stomach cancer is a disease, in which malignant cells from the lining of stomach mutate and change their shape. However, in gastric cancers, all aspects of the Gastrointestinaltract are affected. Nearly all of these malignant growths start as adenocarcinomas which are mutated cells that initially served the function of creating mucus. Other types of Gastric cancers include gastrointestinal stromal tumours,gastrointestinal carcinoid tumours, and lymphomas.
Most of these malignant growths are diagnosed at an advanced stage when a significant damage has already been done.
Annually, more than 100,000 such cancer cases are registered in hospitals. Roughly 0.9 percent of men and women are diagnosed with malignant gastric growths.
Cancer is a complex disease, and there is rarely a single factor to be blamed for mutations of cells. For most people, thecombination of some negative conditions brings about the problem. These could include lifestyle factors, diet, extrinsic factors, genetics, and more.
More recently, research has indicated a link between H-pylori and Gastric cancers. It is a spiral-shaped bacterium that can only survive in less-acidic conditions. It secretes urease, which converts urea to ammonia. This reduces the acidity of gastric juice, making it possible for other pathogens and allergens to survive inside the stomach. Moreover, the organism highjacks the mucous cells lining the stomach and utilises them for its growth and survival. While immune cells can quickly identify and remove threats, H-pylori makes use of advanced strategies to evade immune responses. The reasons causing it to mutate in some and leave the rest unaffected,arestill not understood well. However, it has now been identified as a major carcinogen. Other risk factors for gastric cancer include:
- Chronic gastritis, in which the stomach juices do not work well on digesting food
- Older men may be more prone to the condition
- Men are more predisposed to the ailment than females
- A diet high in salts, curated meats, preservatives and low nutrient density may encourage malignant growth
- Tobacco chewing and smoking
- Pernicious anemia
Gastric cancer may result in some uncomfortable symptoms. These may range from mild to severe, depending on the phase as well as personal tolerance.
The indications of the disease appear as soon as malignant growth occurs. This is because the cancerous cells will compete for nutrition and are usually more fecund than healthy cells. Some common symptoms of gastric cancer include:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Feeling full after eating
- Severe and persistent heart burns
- Indigestion resulting in pain
- Persistent and unexplained nausea accompanied by headaches
- Constant vomiting with blood and stomach pain
- Extreme weight loss
- Dark-colored stools or blood in faeces
Due to the symptoms, inflammation may be persistent in the stomach, and this could give rise to other life threatening problems. As a result, absorption of nutrients into the blood stream is also disabled. Moreover, it may severely reduce blood sugar level and induce hypoglycemia, light-headedness, and fatal fainting.
Many tests can determine the cases of cancerous growth inside the stomach. Usually, tests are carried out to examine stomach as well as the oesophagus. A physical exam may be the first medical aspect utilised for diagnosis. This is supplemented with an endoscopy and a biopsy for confirmation. As soon as gastric cancer is discovered, treatment begins right away. A complete blood count may also be ordered by the physician to check the quantity and quality of blood. Moreover, the Barium swallow is a new technique in which, X-rays of the GI track can be taken easily.
Certain factors affect the prognosis of treatment. The stage at which the cancer is discovered, age of the patient, and his general health may play a part in determining the course and outcome of treatment.
Five standard treatment options are followed for Gastric cancer:
This is one of the most common treatments for this ailment and is chosen by most physicians in all stages. In the event of removal of a small portion of the stomach, it is known as the subtotal gastrectomy. This may be the spleen or areas near lymph nodes. A more severe form of this surgery is total gastrectomy, whereby the entire stomach is removed in addition to other parts of the intestines, spleen and lymph nodes. The oesophagus is then attached directly to the small intestine so the patient can still swallow and eat.
This treatment option is common in cancer therapies. Drugs are used to stop the growth of malignant cells. The direction of treatment can be systematic, or it can be regional. However, as chemotherapy affects normal cells in addition to cancerous growths, this can induce a number of side effects in patients.
This kind of therapy is reserved for advanced level patients. It uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or to stop them from mutating and growing. Usually, external radiation techniques are used on gastric cancers.
Nowadays, doctors utilize a combination of therapies to give more potent treatments to patients. Chemo-radiation may be given before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor.
Monoclonal antibodies are the new frontier in gastric cancer treatment. These are given in infusion and might be coated with radioactive drugs and other medicine to kill the mutated cell. Hence, it protects other normal cells from damage. Monoclonal antibodies such as trastuzumab or ramucirumab are already under production and are more useful for the late stage gastric cancer. Many of these treatments block growth factors that are needed by cancer cells.
There are many other treatment options that are currently in trial phases. Patients can undergo these radical treatments by enrolling themselves for the trials. In the future, many new and improved therapies for gastric cancer may be available. To say the least, it looks like the future of treatment options for Gastric cancers is sufficiently bright.