Cancer » Gastric Cancer
Gastric cancer is a kind of cancer originating primarily in the stomach and is commonly known as stomach cancer. Stomach is a kind of muscle bag located on the upper side of the abdomen and is adjacent to ribs. The main function of stomach is to hold and process the food we swallow. Hence, if such a vital organ of our body gets caught by the cancerous cells, the whole digestive system may fail to perform its function efficiently. This will put a direct and severe impact on the victim's health and contribute to other major abnormalities in the body. Thus, understanding the nature and causes of the disease is advantageous to secure yourself from the abnormality.
How the disease develops?
Gastric cancer develops primarily in the cells and tissues present in the inner linings of the stomach. The disease grows gradually and may not show any considerable and sure-shot symptoms in the initial stages. Malignant cells usually attack the healthy tissues present in the inner lining of the stomach and prevent them from performing their regular tasks. This obstructs smooth flow of blood and oxygen to the affected areas or other parts of the body and hampers the overall cell-growth process. Thus, it affects the health of the tissues and cells present in the other organs as well and make them prone to the disease.
The malignant cells are also known as cancerous cells or tumor cells. Their main aim is to replace the healthy cells and tissues with the infected cells. This leads to rapid division and growth of cells unnecessarily and prevents the normal cells from dying out naturally. Thus, a lump or a group of unwanted cells is formed and this lump is commonly known as tumor. The tumor doesn't restrict itself to a single area but spreads to other parts of the body through bloodstream or lymph nodes and forms separate tumor in the areas it spreads.
Tumors can be benign or cancerous depending upon the nature and severity of the infection. Benign tumors are usually non-destructive and rarely damage the healthy cells and tissues. They do not spread to other parts of the body and can be eliminated completely by surgery or other kinds of treatment. Also, their chances of recurrence are very rare. Cancerous tumors are the ones who cause the destruction. They kill cells and tissues, spread rapidly and can be fatal if not treated in time. Eliminating cancerous tumors is difficult and requires a systematic line of treatment. Also, their chances of recurrence are higher.
Wall of the stomach comprises of three different layers of tissues. Serosal is the outer layer, muscularis is the middle layer while the mucosal is the inner layer. The cancerous cells generally originate in the mucosal and spread to other layers gradually. Gastric cancer can be of different types depending upon the location of its origin. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of stomach cancer accounting for nearly 90% of the overall cancer cases. This type of cancer develops in the glandular tissues of the stomach and later spreads to other areas. Sarcomas and lymphomas are other rare forms of stomach cancer. Sarcomas originate in the connective tissues like muscles or blood vessels while lymphomas develop in the lymphatic system.
General awareness about gastric cancer
Stomach cancer is one of the severest forms of cancer and the consequences of ignoring any abnormalities in your stomach or the overall digestive system can be extremely risky. Though the cancer develops in the stomach, it may very soon spread to other vital organs like gallbladder, lungs, kidney, liver or heart. Smoking, tobacco chewing and excess consumption of alcohol is one of the major causes of the cancer and must be avoided strictly. A strong immunity system is very important to fight the infection. You must include fresh vegetables, fruits and salads in your daily diet. Regular exercise along with a balanced diet is the key to make you less prone to the infection.
Indigestion or abdominal irritation is one of the earliest symptoms of stomach cancer. Occurence of blood in the stool and vomiting blood are some other major indications of the disease. Consistent and unusual abdominal pain, unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite and weakness are some of the basic warnings to visit your physician.
Men are more prone to stomach cancer as compared to women and the disease occurs mostly in the age group of 40-60 years. Hence, a regular health check-up after 35-40 years of age is very important. Helicobacter pylori is a microorganism causing stomach infection, and is the most common cause of stomach cancer and has been detected in almost 90% of the cases. Consuming diet high in salt, preserved or smoked food can also increase the chances of being the victim of this cancer. Family history of the disease, gastric polyps, chronic gastritis and anemia are some of the important causes of the disease. Difficulty in swallowing and digesting food must be dealt with immediately by consulting a physician.
Gastric cancer is completely curable if detected in the early stages. Various types of physical examinations like biopsy, endoscopy, computed tomography scan (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI scan), X-rays and esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) are used worldwide to diagnose the nature and intensity of the disease. Radiation therapy, surgery and chemical therapy are some common forms of treatment to treat the cancer cells. Stomach cancer is the fourth major cancer in the world and occurs mainly in men and in the developing countries. The number of deaths caused due to this disease is very high. After lung cancer, it is the second-most cause of death due to any type of cancer.