Stomach cancer is a malignant tumor which originates at the epithelial tissue of stomach. The pathology is one of the most prevalent oncological diseases. It may develop in any section of the stomach. Every year, up to 700,000 individuals die of stomach cancer. Stomach cancer has an extensive and complex classification which is of no particular interest to a patient.
What factors may contribute to the development of stomach cancer?
- Genetic predisposition -- if a family member was diagnosed with stomach cancer, the risk of an occurrence of stomach cancer in other close (blood) relatives is increased by 20%;
- Dietary habits -- over-indulgence in smoked, spicy, salty, fried (over-roasted) and tinned food or non-perishable food containing nitrates increases the risk of stomach cancer development;
- Prolonged stomach disorders: gastrites (involving stomach juice hypoacidity), stomach ulcers and polyps;
- Stomach operations increase the risk of stomach cancer by 2.5 times;
- Occurrence of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the stomach. In 1994, World Health Organization acknowledged the relationship between the presence of Helicobacter pylori and stomach cancer, and has classified the bacteria as a Class One carcinogene;
- Contact with asbestos and nickel;
- Deficit of vitamins B12 and C;
- Primary and secondary (e.g., AIDS) immunodeficiency states;
- Stomach cancer develops 20 times more often in patients affected by pernicious (malignant) anemia;
- Some viruses, in particular the Epstein-Barr virus;
- Alcoholism and smoking.
How does the disease manifest itself, or what are its symptoms?
A small-sized tumor is usually symptomless. Only in certain cases the person affected by stomach cancer may notice the following symptoms:
- decreased appetite;
- changes in dietary habits: the patient may, e.g., become disgusted with meat, fish, etc.;
- elevated temperature (most often it is about 37 to 38 degrees Celsius);
- anemia (decreased hemoglobin levels).
In the course of growth of the cancerous tumor in the stomach, new symptoms develop:
- heavy feeling in the stomach after eating, nausea and vomiting, feeling gorged;
- pains in the upper region of the stomach, girdling pains that pass to the back (in cases when the tumor expands to the pancreatic gland);
- increased size of the stomach, accumulation of liquid in the abdominal cavity (abdominal dropsy);
- loss of weight;
- in cases when the tumor disintegrates blood vessels a gastric bleeding is possible.
Early diagnosis of stomach cancer is extremely important!!!
Patients affected by stage I stomach cancer have a high chance of complete recovery provided that adequate surgical treatment is provided. The five-year survival rate is 80%; with 70% of these fully recovering. At stage I, stomach cancer is revealed very rarely, and, as a rule, only by chance. The five-year survival rate of patients with stage IV stomach cancer usually does not exceed 5%, and the 10-year survival rate is 2.3%. Only 1.4% of these recover completely. Stage IV stomach cancer is revealed in 80% of patients, and is the most prevalent.
Statistical data indicate quite clearly that periodical examinations are advisable not only to patients that have the above complaints, but to practically healthy persons.
What concerns individuals that belong to the risk group, a yearly esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGC) examination is obligatory. Presently, ECG complimented by histological studies are the golden standard of stomach pathology diagnostics.
The Endoscopic Department of our Health Care Center uses the most advanced equipment ever deployed in our country; it offers all the diagnostic manipulations necessary for early diagnosis of digestive tract pathologies.
Treatment of stomach cancer
Today, the main, and practically the only, method of definitive treatment of stomach cancer is a surgical operation. Stomach resection also ensures better palliative care: the cause of pain, as well as swallowing difficulties and bleeding, are eliminated, and the number of tumor cells in the body is reduced. This facilitates an increased life expectancy and alleviates distress of the patient. Radiation and chemical therapy provide an accessory effect.
At our Center, we use a less traumatic stomach cancer surgical treatment technique which is widely adopted globally. Our Center is one of the first Belarusian medical institutions that have successfully employed the laparoscopical technique in stomach pathology treatment.
One of essential aspects of the operation is lymph node dissection, that is, the removal of lymphatic tissue which may contain cancer cells. Advanced modern laparoscopic optics offers the surgeon an opportunity to see, and remove, a potentially dangerous area of tissue in order to minimize the chance of possible complications and relapses.
The operative therapy technique enjoys several advantages over open-surgery techniques:
- earlier patient activization;
- a considerably lower level of wound-related complications;
- apparent cosmetic advantage;
- maximum patient comfort during the early postoperative period.