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What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer (also called gastric cancer) is cancer that develops from the cells of the inner layer of the stomach. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The accumulation of these extra cells forms a mass of tissue called a tumor. Cancer can occur in any part of the stomach. Stomach cancers are of different types depending on the cells of the stomach from which they originate such as hormone-making cells, cells of the inner lining, or the immunological cells of the stomach. Gastric cancers can spread to other parts of the body. They first spread from the stomach to the lymph nodes and then further spread through the lymphatic system. In later stages, it may spread to other organs such as the liver, bones, and lungs through blood. If you have been diagnosed with stomach cancer, you may want to partner with an expert gastroenterologist through GI Alliance.
What are the causes and risk factors for stomach cancer?
The exact cause of stomach cancer is unknown, but there are certain variables that can lead to an increase in its risk. These variables include:
- A high sodium diet
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Smoking and consuming tobacco products
If you are at an elevated risk for stomach cancer, please talk to your GI Alliance physician about methods of screening and prevention.
How is stomach cancer treated?
Gastric cancer treatment depends on the type and the stage or spread of the cancer. Your age and general state of health are also of important consideration by the doctor in determining the treatment modality. Treatment involves surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Surgery is the most common treatment for gastric cancer. Three kinds of surgeries are used to treat gastric cancer. The type of surgery depends on where the cancer is located and how deep the cancer cells have invaded the area in the stomach. The three types of surgery for gastric cancer are:
- Endoscopic mucosal resection: This is done only when the cancer is detected at an early stage, where the chance of it spreading to the lymph nodes is very low. In this procedure, cancerous tissue is removed from the stomach using an endoscope, a long flexible tube with a camera at the end. During the procedure, an endoscope is passed through the mouth into the stomach and surgical tools are also passed through it to remove the cancerous tissue. The surgery is done using these tools and does not involve any cuts on the body.
- Subtotal gastrectomy: In this surgery, a part of the stomach is removed. This surgery is primarily used when the cancer is only in the lower part of the stomach or the upper part of the stomach. During the procedure, only part of the stomach is removed, and sometimes a part of the esophagus is removed along with it. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed. The remaining part of the stomach is then reattached.
- Total gastrectomy: In this surgery, the whole stomach is removed along with nearby lymph nodes, and a new stomach is recreated by the small intestine. This is usually done when the cancer has spread to the whole of the stomach. Sometimes nearby organs are also removed if the cancer has spread to them.
Chemotherapy and radiation may also be given after the surgery to kill the few cancer cells that may be left after the surgery and to prevent the recurrence of the disease.
Possible complications of surgery for stomach cancer include bleeding, formation of blood clots, and damage to nearby organs. You may also develop frequent heartburn, abdominal pain (especially after eating), and vitamin deficiencies.
After the surgery, follow-up is very important since the recurrence of the disease is a possibility. In case of any suspicion, the doctor will ask for certain tests to confirm any findings. Absorption of vitamin B12 occurs through the upper part of the stomach. If the upper part of the stomach is removed by surgery vitamin B12 levels are closely monitored and vitamin B12 injections are given when required. The doctor may refer you to a nutritionist to plan your diet and you may need to eat smaller meals more often as the size of the new stomach may be small.
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Hope for patients with stomach cancer
Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer as it is sometimes called, might be a disturbing diagnosis to receive. Expert gastroenterologists through GI Alliance can partner with you to help you through surgical treatment. If you have been experiencing troubling GI symptoms or are at an elevated risk for stomach cancer, then contact a local gastroenterologist through GI Alliance to learn more about this and other possible conditions that can affect the GI tract.
Very thorough, capable and kind doctor.
I was seen by Dr. Donelson . She listened to my concerns. She also made recommendations as to some changes I should make. I was pleased with the office visit. I will gladly recommend her to anyone needing GI services .
The staff were very nice. Very friendly. Any question I had, they answered. I would definitely recommend their services.
Very caring and sought to know my personal experience
Dr. Harmston is very personable and he listens to your concerns. He cares about you as a patient. He is knowledgeable and excellent Dr. It's always been nice follow-ups and checkups over the years. I recommend him highly! Thank you so much.