The stomach is located around the midway point of the digestive tract, with the mouth, throat and esophagus above it and the small intestines, colon and anus below it. For the past several decades, rates of stomach cancer appear to be declining. The stomach is made of different layers. The mucosa is the innermost layer. It makes stomach acid and the enzymes that digest food. Most stomach cancers start in the mucosa. There’s also a thick muscle layer that helps mix up food.
Types of Stomach Cancer
- Adenocarcinoma – forms in the inner layer of the stomach.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) – GIST forms in cells inside the stomach wall called the interstitial cells of Cajal.
- Carcinoid tumours – Forms through the cells in the stomach that make hormones.
Some common symptoms are:
- Feeling bloated or full after eating small amounts
- Heartburn. This may be similar to heartburn or indigestion.
- Nausea and vomiting. Sometimes, the vomit may contain blood.
- Stomach pain
- Persistent vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Age – More common in people older than 55 years old
- Gender – Affect men twice as often as women
- Genetics – Individuals who have inherited BRCA1 & BRCA2 genetic mutations are at an increased risk of stomach cancer.
Diagnosing stomach cancer includes:
- Biopsy – To determine whether cancer cells are in the stomach.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scans – To reveal detailed images of your abdomen. These tests help our doctors determine where the cancer is in the stomach and whether it has spread to other abdominal organs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – To help doctors stage stomach cancer.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan– To help doctors determine the stage of the disease and whether it has spread.
- Ultrasound – Used if the fluid is found in your abdomen and to check for tumours that have spread to other organs.
Treatment options for stomach cancer require comprehensive and innovative diagnostic imaging to determine appropriate treatment for each patient. Treatment options for stomach cancer inclusive of:
- Surgery – to remove all of cancer and a margin of healthy tissue including relevant lymph nodes.
- Radiotherapy – to kill any cancer cells that might remain after stomach cancer surgery, alleviate pain and stop bleeding or shrink tumours that may be blocking the digestive tract.
- Chemotherapy – To shrink tumour to make surgery easier and improve the outcome of treatment.
- Targeted therapy –for patients with advanced stomach cancer whose cancer cells tested positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).