Read this article to enrich your knowledge about stomach cancer treatment options which when started at the right time can cure the disease.
Stomach is a vital organ of the digestive system which is located in the upper right portion of the abdomen just below the ribs. It plays a major role in breaking down the foods that we eat. Stomach cancer is also known as gastric cancer. Stomach cancer is categorized into various types depending upon the cells that are responsible for the cancer. Among them, adenocarcinoma is the most common and it affects the glandular cells that forms the inner lining of the stomach. Other rare forms of stomach cancer are: lymphoma and leiomyosarcoma.
Causes and Symptoms
Till date, the exact cause of stomach cancer is not known. It can be hereditary. Regular exposure to asbestos fibers, coal mines, nickel refining may also cause stomach cancer. Symptoms are very similar to that of peptic ulcer. It includes indigestion, abdominal pain, heartburn, sense of fullness after eating, loss of appetite, etc. Vomiting blood and rectal bleeding may also occur which in turn may cause anemia. When the cancerous cells spread to other surrounding organs, then liver enlargement, jaundice, accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity may occur.
Treatment and prognosis go hand in hand. Accurate diagnosis is important to ascertain the cancer’s stage and then the treatment is carried out accordingly. Some common diagnostic procedures are endoscopy, special kinds of x-rays and biopsy where the samples of cancer cells are thoroughly examined under the microscope. The three most common options of treatment for stomach cancer are as follows:
The surgical procedure used for partial or complete removal of the stomach and tissues from its surrounding areas is known as gastrectomy. The decision of whether a patient should undergo surgery or not depends on the size and location of the tumor. If detected at an early stage, only the cancerous cells and some of the lymph nodes around it are removed surgically.
In a more serious case, part of the stomach has to be removed in order to provide relief from the signs and symptoms of the cancer. Sometimes, the entire stomach is removed surgically along with parts of the other organs like small intestine and esophagus that are quite close to the tumor. In such cases, the esophagus is joined to the small intestines so that the food goes directly in the small intestine.
This process involves use of high powered beams of radiation which are directed towards the cancerous cells in order to destroy them. For this treatment, the patient needs to lie down on a table and radiation from a huge machine is released into the body. Sometimes, it is conducted after gastrectomy to eliminate any of the cancer cells that are left behind after the surgery.
Another popular method of treatment, it involves use of medicines that contain strong chemicals that can kill the cancerous cells in the body. It may be given in the form of pills or administered into the body through injections. It prevents further growth and spread of the cancerous cells. Many a times, it is combined with other forms of cancer treatment. Some people may have to undergo chemotherapy before the surgery as well. This shrinks the cancerous cells which makes surgical removal of the cells easier. Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy in order to make the treatment more effective.
Most of these stomach cancer treatments have some kind of side effects associated with them. These treatments have an adverse effect on the overall digestive health and the patients are susceptible to indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. However, once the body gets used to the changes, most of the side effects disappear. Lots of research studies are being done to make these treatments more effective and minimize their side effects.