Stomach cancer: Causes, symptoms, treatment, prevention tips and everything you should know

Stomach cancer: Here's all you need to know from the causes to the symptoms, treatment and prevention tips for stomach

Published on Feb 27, 2024 07:00 AM IST 6 Photos

Stomach cancer is a significant health concern in India, with the country experiencing a considerable burden of this disease as the incidence of stomach cancer varies across different regions of India, with higher rates reported in certain states. In an interview with Zarafshan Shiraz of HT Lifestyle, Dr Manish Sharma, Senior Medical Oncologist at Action Cancer Hospital New Delhi and Senior Oncologist at Cancer Care Clinic in Faridabad, shared, “Gastric cancer, another name for stomach cancer, is a type of cancer that begins as a cell growth in the stomach. Located directly below the ribs in the upper central region of the belly is the stomach. The stomach assists in the digestion and breakdown of meals. Every area of the stomach is susceptible to stomach cancer. Stomach cancers often affect the major portion of the stomach in most of the world and are called the stomach body.” (Photo by Pexels)

Stomach cancer is more common in older adults and is slightly more prevalent in men than in women. The symptoms of stomach cancer are: 1. often asymptomatic or may present with nonspecific symptoms like indigestion, heartburn, or stomach discomfort. 2. In advanced stages unintentional weight loss, persistent abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, difficulty swallowing, blood in the stool, fatigue, and a sense of fullness or bloating after eating small amounts of food could be seen. “It is possible for symptoms to wait until the cancer has progressed. Symptoms of stomach cancer in its latter stages include extreme fatigue, spontaneous weight loss, vomiting blood, and dark stools. There could be metastatic stomach cancer that has migrated to other areas of the body. It develops symptoms unique to the area it spreads to. For instance, lumps that are visible through the skin may develop if cancer progresses to the lymph nodes. The skin and the whites of the eyes may turn yellow if liver cancer develops. The belly may fill with fluid if the cancer spreads inside the abdomen. The abdomen may appear enlarged", explained Dr Manish Sharma. (Shutterstock)

Causes of stomach cancer could be: 1. Helicobacter pylori infection: This bacterium is a major risk factor for stomach cancer. 2. Dietary factors: Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in items that have been smoked, salted, or pickled may raise the risk. 3. Use of alcohol and tobacco products is linked to a higher risk of stomach cancer. 4. Genetics: People may be more susceptible to stomach cancer if they have certain inherited genetic diseases, such as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC). (Photo by Shutterstock)


When to visit a doctor? “Schedule a visit with your doctor or a medical oncologist if you are concerned about any of the signs and symptoms listed. Similar symptoms to those of stomach cancer can be produced by a number of illnesses. Prior to testing for stomach cancer, your doctor may do tests for those other possible causes”, informed Dr Manish Sharma. (Twitter/WebMD)

Treatment and prognosis: The prognosis for stomach cancer depends on various factors, including the stage at diagnosis, the extent of spread, and the overall health of the individual. Generally, stomach cancer diagnosed at an early stage has a better prognosis than cancer that has spread extensively. Surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy or a radiation therapy could be treatment given based on the stages of cancer. (Shutterstock)