Stomach cancer

stomach cancer summary

Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, is a neoplasm that affects the cells of the stomach. The most common type is adenocarcinoma, responsible for about 95% of cases of the disease. Its incidence is higher in men than in women and varies according to the country, probably associated with diet. In countries like the USA and France, the incidence is low. In Latin America and Japan, the incidence of the disease is high.

The causes of cancer are still not fully understood, but it is believed that diets rich in smoked, cured and canned foods trigger the disease. The main risk groups are patients with a history of cancer and who have a poor diet. Symptoms are often non-specific and involve fatigue, tiredness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fever , bloody vomiting, persistent gastritis, and diarrhea .

The diagnosis is made with clinical exams and also with imaging tests, such as resonance and radiography. The main complication of gastric tumor is metastasis. Gastric bleeding and also difficulty feeding are other associated problems. Treatments are based on surgical removal of the tumor mass, treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Medicinal plants and homeopathy help combat side effects and improve the patient’s quality of life.

It is important that the patient talks to the doctor about the disease and tries to find out as much information as possible. As forms of prevention, it is recommended that the person has a balanced diet based on vegetables, fish and vitamins, reduce the consumption of canned and cured foods, avoid smoking and practice physical exercises.

Definition

Stomach cancer, or also known as gastric cancer, is a malignant neoplasm that affects stomach cells. Stomach tumors present themselves in practically three different ways:

– Stomach adenocarcinoma: when the tumor begins in the cells that produce gastric mucus. It is the most common type of gastric cancer, accounting for 95% of cases.

– Lymphoma: when the affected cells are the lymph nodes. Responsible for about 3% of cases.

– Leiomyosarcoma: cancer originating from muscle tissues.

There are other types of tumors, such as carcinoid tumor and gastrointestinal stromal tumor.

Epidemiology

The incidence of stomach cancer varies greatly depending on the country, mainly in relation to food and the country’s level of development (level of wealth).

– In the United States, the estimates of the American Cancer Society of stomach cancer for the year 2021 are: approximately 26,560 new cases of stomach cancer (16,160 in men and 10,400 in women) and about 11,180 deaths due to this type of cancer (6,740 men and 4,440 women)1 .
Stomach cancer accounts for about 1.5% of all new cancers diagnosed in the United States each year, according to theAmerican Cancer Society.

– According to WHO in 2017, about 750,000 patients die from stomach cancer each year. Stomach cancer is one of the deadliest cancers.

Difference between men and women:
The incidence is higher among men than among women and it is one of the most common cancers in men in some countries.

Age Influence
In the United States, the average age of people when diagnosed with stomach cancer is 68 years. Each year, about 6 out of 10 people diagnosed with stomach cancer are age 65 or older, according to the American Cancer Society .

5-year survival rate:
The 5-year survival rate for stomach cancer in the United States is 32%. There are important differences between the stage and location of the disease. If the cancer is localized, the 5-year survival rate is 70%, but drops to 5% in the presence of metastasis2.

Causes

The causes of stomach cancer are still not fully understood. Gastroesophageal reflux disease , sometimes caused by H. Pylori, is therefore a risk factor. It is believed that there is a correlation between the type of diet and the appearance of stomach cancer. Researchers believe that diets with smoked, cured foods, high in salt and preservatives are the cause of stomach cancer.
Genetic factors can also influence the onset of stomach cancer. All these causes together cause mutations in stomach cells that begin to proliferate in an uncontrolled way, generating a tumor. This tumor can be localized or it can spread to other organs and this is known as metastasis.
The cells that lead to the tumor are: gland cells (adenocarcinoma), lymph nodes (lymphomas), hormone-producing cells (carcinoid tumor), muscle cells (leiomyosarcoma) and nerve tissue cells in the stomach (gastrointestinal stromal tumor).

Excessive salt intake, i.e. more than 5 to 6g per day, is an important risk factor for stomach cancer. Remember that Brazilians consume an average of 12g of salt per day. Salt seems to favor the emergence of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach. An estimated 75% of stomach cancer cases are linked to the H. pylori bacteria, which increases the risk of gastric ulcers which is a risk factor for stomach cancer.

Genetic factors can also influence the appearance of this type of cancer.

Other causes or risk factors are obesity (and overweight), excessive alcohol consumption, excess salt in the diet, and smoking.

Groups of risk

For factors that are still not fully understood, men are more affected than women by stomach cancer. It is believed that the diet plays a key role in the occurrence of stomach cancer, in this regard, patients with poor diet are the main risk group for the disease.

Other risk groups are as follows:

– Patients with a family history of stomach cancer

– Patients infected with Helicobacter pylori

– Patients with stomach polyps

– Patients with chronic gastritis or other chronic inflammation of the stomach

– Patients with pernicious anemia

– Smokers

Some of the risk factors for the disease are:
– Diets low in fiber
– Diets low in greens, vegetables and fruits
– Diets high in cured and smoked foods
– Diets high in foods with salt and preservatives
– Intake of foods with aflatoxins, such as some grains and peanuts

Symptoms

As with other cases of cancer, stomach cancer has no clear symptoms at the beginning. Usually the patient complains of fatigue, abdominal pain and indisposition. These symptoms may be followed by a feeling of full stomach, nausea, vomiting and persistent abdominal discomfort. Other symptoms that may appear are:

– Fever

– Stomach burn

– Gastritis

– Vomiting

– Weight loss

– Lack of appetite

When the disease is at an advanced stage, the patient may present with other clinical signs, such as a palpable mass in the abdominal region, enlargement of viscera such as the liver and spleen, inflamed eguus in the neck region, gastric bleeding, vomiting with blood and blood in the stool (usually the stools are dark, pasty and with a strong odor).

It is important that the patient sees a doctor if he has initial symptoms of the disease, such as chronic and incurable gastritis, or if the person is in a risk group (such as a family history of cancer).

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is initially made with a clinical examination by the physician. He will assess the initial symptoms and the patient’s history. Depending on the suspicion, the doctor may recommend additional tests to prove the presence of the disease:

– Endoscopy

– Computed tomography

– X-ray examination of the stomach

– Biopsy

– Cytological evaluation

– Endoscopic ultrasound

– MRI

According to the test result, the cancer can be classified into one of four stages:

– Stage I : the tumor is limited to its initial site of origin.

– Stage II : In this stage, the cancer begins to reach the deeper layers of tissue.

– Stage III : the cancer grows to deeper layers of the stomach and may spread to the lymph nodes.

– Stage IV : the cancer has already grown beyond the stomach and reached neighboring structures. At this stage it can reach other organs (metastasis).

Complications

The main complication of stomach cancer is metastasis, that is, the potential for the tumor to spread to other organs. The tumor reaches the blood vessels and can reach other tissues and proliferate. Under these conditions, the tumor can lead the patient to death.

Another complication that can happen is the obstruction of the passage of food due to the growth of the tumor mass in the stomach. Bleeding is also frequent and uncomfortable for the patient, in addition to vomiting and diarrhea. This can lead to the patient losing weight, which can aggravate his general health conditions.

Treatment

Stomach cancer treatment can be done with 3 approaches: surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Surgery

Surgery has the function of removing the tumor mass. The doctor can remove it in the early stages and stop the tumor from growing and spreading. Another option is partial gastrectomy, which consists of removing part of the stomach. Total gastrectomy involves completely removing the stomach and surrounding tissue.

There is also the possibility of surgery to remove the lymph nodes if the type of cancer is lymphoma.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy consists of bombarding the tumor with high-energy rays. It can be done before surgery to reduce the tumor mass (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to eliminate tumor remnants. Radiotherapy can also be combined with chemotherapy for greater effectiveness.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to eliminate the tumor. It can be given before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy). Chemotherapy may be conducted with alkylating agents, vinca alkaloids, or other chemotherapeutic agents used for cancer. Other drugs used are imatinib and sunitinib.

Herbal medicine

Currently there is no treatment based on medicinal plants that cure stomach cancer. However, some plants help combat some side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea , indisposition and loss of appetite and sleep.

– Valerian

– Calendula

– Cinnamon

– Melissa

– Bancha

Talk to your doctor to find out if he recommends the use of any specific plant.

Homeopathy

Currently there is no homeopathic medicine indicated for the cure of stomach cancer. However, homeopathy can be used to improve the patient’s general state of health and combat some side effects of conventional treatments. Some of the recommended treatments are:

– Calendula

– Traumel S

– Iodine

– Phosphorus

– Lapis Albus

Talk to your doctor and see if he recommends homeopathy according to your clinical condition.

Tips

Below are some tips for treating stomach cancer:
– Try not to miss chemotherapy sessions. They are very important for the patient’s recovery. Usually when a session is missed, the tumor cells become more resistant to the drugs.
– Talk to your doctor about the disease. Lean on family and friends to get through all the anguish. There are specific medical associations to support the cancer patient.

– Talk to your doctor about treatment. If the side effects are too strong, ask for medication to combat nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.

– Eat well and have a diet rich in proteins, fibers and vitamins. If necessary, ask your doctor for protein and nutrient-based food supplements.

– Look for complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, relaxation, etc. They improve the patient’s quality of life and their reaction to medication.

– In case of removal of the stomach (gastrectomy), the patient must take food supplements, mainly vitamin B12, to compensate for deficiencies.

Prevention

It is believed that stomach cancer is very much linked to the diet one has. Therefore, some preventive measures include:

– Have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamin A and vitamin C.

– Feed on fibers.

– Exercise regularly. This helps eliminate toxins from the body.

– Drink lots of water.

– Avoid smoking.

– Reduce the amount of smoked foods in your diet.

– Avoid consuming cured foods, such as cheeses and sausages. Avoid excessive consumption of canned foods

– Reduce the amount of salt.

– Eat fish and white meat.

– Combat H. pylori and gastritis

– According to a British study published in 2014, daily intake of 75 to 100 mg of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) reduces the risk of stomach cancer by 30% after 10 years of starting treatment, the risk of dying from this type of cancer decreased by 35 to 50%. However, the protective effect of aspirin is only manifested during a treatment period of at least 5 years, if possible 10 years. Daily aspirin intake should begin between 50 and 65 years of age, with medical supervision.

– Do not consume more than 5g of salt per day, salt is a risk factor for stomach cancer. As processed foods usually contain a lot of salt, avoid this type of food and prefer dishes that you cook yourself. Remember that Brazilians consume an average of 12g of salt per day.

Sources & references:    
Cell Host & Microbe (DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.09.005), Mayo Clinic.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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