Hello! Everyone, People think that Cancer is a dreadful disease. As a doctor I would say this is an old notion, today any type of cancer is treatable. I would like to narrate–An incident in the life of Sophia Andy –A Stomach Cancer Survivor.
One day Sophia had severe stomach pain which she had never experienced before. So she saw a doctor, who in turn referred her to us and after a number of tests it was diagnosed as Stomach Cancer. The world shattered for her but she decided to go through the ordeal like a matured person. First three years was very difficult. She was a good eater and now she had to restrict from eating all the junk food. Slowly she changed her lifestyle, though she was very apprehensive she went through her treatment schedule according to my advice. Her fiancé and family were very supportive. During her treatment of Chemotherapy she changed her education and studied and became an Oncology nurse.
With determination and a strong will power in five years she has recovered completely and plans to get married and settle down.
A positive approach to any type of cancer and family support is the first treatment. There are a number of survivors who are leading a normal life. So let’s see what actually causes Stomach Cancer; what are the symptoms and the mode of treatment.
Stomach Cancer, is also known as Gastric Cancer. It is the fifth most frequently diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause cancer deaths worldwide. Slowly people affected stomach cancer the number is declining on account of people changing their life style and are more conscious about their health, identifying and getting treated of the infectious diseases, being aware of the dietary intake and the environmental risk factors attached to it and taking care.
In Stomach Cancer, the cancer cells generally begin on the lining of the stomach walls, and as cancer develops the cancer cells go deep into the stomach walls. The tumor can grow and involve nearby organs like the liver and the pancreas.
SYMPTOMS OF STOMACH CANCER:
- Unreasonably weight loss,
- Continuous abdominal pain,
- Nausea and vomiting,
- Loss of appetite,
- Vomiting blood,
- Visceral metastasis,
- Gastric-outlet obstruction,
- Mass in the abdomen is a sign of advanced stage.
CAUSES OF STOMACH CANCER:
- Diet factors like consumption of high-salt preserved food,
- Intake of a low-vitamin a and C diet,
- Eating large amount of smoked food,
- Consuming large amounts of food that are not refrigerated,
- Drinking contaminated drinking water.
- Working in factories where rubber manufacturing, tin mining, metal processing and in coal mines.
- Sometimes hereditary also.
- A diet that does not include many fruits and vegetables.
TESTS TO BE TAKEN:
Endoscopy of the upper part of the abdomen, here a small camera is sent through the mouth into the stomach and biopsies are taken from the tumor; direct biopsy of the esophageal; gastric or gastric ulcer. These tests are repeated a number of times for higher accuracy in diagnosis. Based on the diagnosis the stages are detected and treated accordingly.
- CT scan, swallowing barium, and MRI.
- An ultrasound helps to look through the surface of the stomach lining to the stomach beyond to see how much of the stomach is involved by the tumor.
TYPES OF STOMACH CANCER:
- 95% of the stomach cancers develop in the cells of the stomach lining known as Adenocarcinomas.
- Lymphoma of the stomach is another type of stomach cancer which is not very common this develops in the lymphatic tissue.—this is the tissue that drains away fluid and helps fight infection.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), this develops in the muscle or in the connective tissue of the stomach wall.
TREATMENT FOR STOMACH CANCER:
- In a number of cases surgery is avoided and through other ways the stomach cancer is treated,
- A Gastroenterologist removes the cancer by performing an upper endoscopy and the tumor is cut from the rest of the gastric wall.
- In case the tumor has gone beyond the layers of the stomach a surgery (gastrectomy ) is performed to remove the stomach and then the esophagus is connected to the small intestine so that digestion can take place.
- After the removal of the stomach a person can still eat normally but the size of the portions must be adjusted.
- Radiation therapy is done by taking up high-powered beams of energy to kill the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy is another process through which chemicals are used to kill the cancer cells.
- Many a time radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatment are combined.
- As there are a number of ways to treat cancer, the doctor decides the mode of treatment according to the stage of the stomach cancer.
LIFE WITHOUT A STOMACH:
- If a partial part of the stomach is removed then the small intestine is connected to the remaining part of the stomach.
- If the stomach is removed totally ( gastrectomy ) a working digestive system is left that allows swallowing, Eating and digesting food.
- At this time it’s very important to follow the doctor’s advice to eat a proper nutritious diet.
- In the first few months of the surgery a patient must consume as many calories as possible, so that there is not much weight loss.
- A patient must eat smaller amounts of food like six to eight small meals a day and chew well.
- Some patients experience Dumping Syndrome—after the removal of a part or entire stomach they face problems like nausea, diarrhea, sweating and flushing after eating. With a proper treatment this can also be taken care off.
- If necessary nutrients are eaten the healing process will take faster.
- Slowly the desire to eat and enjoy the food eaten will return.
- Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and every meal should be well balanced.
- try not to go for more than 2 to 3 hours without food.
- Liquids can be consumed more often than solid foods whenever required.
- Better to drink milk and unsweetened juice instead of coffee, tea or water.
WAYS TO PREVENT STOMACH CANCER:
- The first and foremost way is to a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and low in salts and red meat.
- Regular exercises and to maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid smoking then not only stomach cancer but many other cancers risks can be avoided.
GASTRIC CANCER IN INDIA:
Compared to developed countries gastric cancer is low. Northeastern states of India the incidence is high compared to Southern States. This is because of different lifestyles and culture. More awareness programs and articles must be published about gastric cancer. So there is an urgent need for research in various aspects of gastric cancer.
AWARENESS OF STOMACH CANCER:
Public should be made aware to change their lifestyle and regular screening for the presence of symptoms should be made compulsory to reduce gastric cancer. There is a low knowledge level of stomach cancer among the general public. Many people are scared to undergo gastroscopy as they have no symptoms. People living in rural areas as farmers as there is no family history of stomach cancer they are afraid to go for screening.
Hence there is an urgent need to have educational campaigns to improve awareness of gastric cancer both in rural and urban areas.
For Consultation : Cancer Specialist and oncologist