ISRO chief S Somanath ‘cured’ of stomach cancer; know all about the condition | Health - Hindustan Times
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ISRO chief S Somanath ‘cured’ of stomach cancer; know all about the condition

By, New Delhi
Mar 06, 2024 04:19 PM IST

ISRO chief S Somanath in a recent interview talked about his stomach cancer diagnosis. All you want to know about symptoms and treatment of stomach cancer.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief S Somanath recently talked about his stomach cancer diagnosis and his recovery journey in a recent interview. S Somanath said he discovered a growth in his stomach on the day of solar mission Aditya-L1 launch. “On the day Aditya-L1 was launched, I conducted a scan in the morning of that day. That was when I realised that I had a growth in my stomach. I gained a clue about it as soon as the launch occurred,” ISRO chief said in a Malayalam interview with Tarmak Media House. Once the problem was confirmed, he underwent an operation and chemotherapy, and is now 'cured' of the stomach cancer caused by a hereditary condition. (Also read: Minimise your risk of cancer with these simple lifestyle changes)

ISRO chief S Somanath said he underwent an operation and chemotherapy for stomach cancer and is now 'cured'.
ISRO chief S Somanath said he underwent an operation and chemotherapy for stomach cancer and is now 'cured'.

“Following Aditya-L1, I was advised to undergo an operation. The operation was performed. After that, I underwent chemotherapy,” he said.

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What is stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is a growth of cells that starts in the lining of stomach and may be caused by faulty lifestyle choices like smoking, and a diet of highly processed or salty foods. It is the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death across the world and in India, the incidence of stomach cancer is on rise in the past decade due to factors like sedentary lifestyle, eating salty and processed foods.

“Stomach cancer primarily occurs in the gland cells in the inner stomach lining. Stomach cancer is also known as Gastric Cancer. This cancer can affect people at any age, but the risk usually rises as people get older. Exact cause of stomach cancer is not clear but there are some risk factors particularly linked to diet and lifestyle that may make you more prone to develop stomach cancer. These include being overweight or obese, consumption of a diet containing large amounts of foods preserved by salting like salted fish and meat and pickled vegetables, regular eating processed, grilled, or charcoaled meats, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, personal or family history of stomach cancer, previous stomach surgery, polyps, pernicious anemia. People working in the coal, metal, and rubber industries may be at higher risk of developing stomach cancer,” says Dr. Bir Singh Sehrawat, Director and HOD-Gastroenterology, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad.

Reasons why stomach cancer is considered deadly

"The stomach is the organ that holds food and aids in the intestines' subsequent digestion. Patients typically don't notice symptoms until the disease is quite advanced since the structure is very extensible to accommodate food, even in cases where the malignancy is very huge," says Dr Vinay Gaikwad, Director- Surgical Oncology, CK Birla Hospital Gurugram.

Dr Gaikwad says stomach cancers are known to be aggressive and grow rapidly which increases risk of mortality.

"The main cause for concern is that stomach tumours typically have an aggressive tumour biology, meaning that they are extremely malignant and grow quickly by nature. Additionally, stomach cancer symptoms can occasionally be deceptive and quite ambiguous. Abdominal pain and an acidic feeling are typical and should not be regarded seriously until the disease has advanced enough," he adds.

“Stomach cancer does not show any symptoms in its earlier stages. If you experience symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, severe abdominal pain, bloating of the stomach after meals, reduced appetite, Nausea and vomiting, blood in vomiting, dark and sticky stool, chronic stomach problems such as polyps or gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) and Difficulty or painful swallowing for more than two weeks, you should consult Gastroenterologist immediately,” says Dr Sehrawat.

Causes of stomach cancer

Dr Gaikwad says there are a number of factors that can raise one's risk of stomach cancer, yet the actual cause of the illness is still unknown.

  • Infection with Helicobacter pylori is a major risk factor that can cause chronic inflammation of the stomach lining and raise the chance of stomach cancer over time.
  • An increased risk of stomach cancer may result from certain lifestyle choices, including smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and eating a diet high in pickled, smoked, or salty foods.
  • Older age, male gender, obesity, and radiation or chemical exposure are additional risk factors. Although stomach cancer is not a common occurrence in people with these risk factors, living a healthy lifestyle and limiting exposure to recognised risk factors can help lower the chance of contracting this possibly fatal illness.

Symptoms of stomach cancer

"A variety of symptoms, some of which may be mild at first but become more noticeable as the illness worsens, are frequently present with stomach cancer. Constant discomfort or soreness in the abdomen, particularly in the upper abdomen, is frequently an early indicator. When the tumour grows and interferes with digestion, it may cause inadvertent weight loss, appetite loss, and a sense of fullness even after eating little amounts of food," says Dr Gaikwad.

"Suffering from nausea and vomiting, especially after eating, as well as having trouble swallowing or feeling as though food is lodged in the throat, can also be signs of stomach cancer. Depending on the stage and location of the cancer, these symptoms can vary in intensity and may be accompanied by additional symptoms including weakness, exhaustion, or blood in the stool," adds the oncologist.

Prevention of stomach cancer

According to studies, an increased intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin C-rich foods, including vegetables and fruits, can protect people from gastric cancer. According to the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research report, increased consumption of non-starchy vegetables and fruits may decrease the risk of gastric cancer, whereas salt and salted foods may be the risk factors of gastric cancer.

Treatment of stomach cancer

The treatment options are also rather complicated, such as chemotherapy, supra-major surgery, radiation therapy, and sometimes targeted therapy.

"The important thing is to be aware of the symptoms early on and to get appropriate tests to rule out or confirm this disease. Check-ups should also be done if there is someone else in the family with cancer. Smoking and alcohol intake should be avoided. Smoked food is also harmful. Prevention is better than cure, more so in stomach cancer. Awareness and early detection is the key to beat this dangerous cancer," concludes Dr Gaikwad.

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