Stomach Cancer Treatment (Pdq®)

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The initial symptoms of stomach cancer are vague & easy to lớn mistake for other less serious conditions. They include:

trapped wind and frequent burpingfeeling very full or bloated after meals

Symptoms of advanced stomach cancer can include:

blood in your stools, or black stoolsloss of appetiteweight loss

As the early symptoms of stomach cancer are similar to lớn those of many other conditions, the cancer is often advanced by the time it"s diagnosed. It"s therefore important to lớn get any possible symptoms of stomach cancer checked by your GP as soon as possible.

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Read more about diagnosing stomach cancer

Who"s affected

The exact cause of stomach cancer is still unclear, although you"re more likely khổng lồ develop it if you:

are maleare 55 years of age or oldersmokehave a diet low in fibre và high in processed food or red meathave a diet that contains a lot of salted and pickled foodshave a stomach infection caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) bacteria 

Read more about the causes of stomach cancer.

Types of stomach cancer

There are several different types of stomach cancer. More than 95% of stomach cancers develop in the cells of the stomach lining & are known as adenocarcinomas.

Less common types of stomach cancer include lymphoma of the stomach, which develops in the lymphatic tissue (tissue that drains away fluid and helps fight infection), and gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs), which develop in the muscle or connective tissue of the stomach wall.

How stomach cancer is treated

Many cases of stomach cancer can"t be completely cured, but it"s still possible to lớn relieve symptoms và improve quality of life using chemotherapy and in some cases radiotherapy and surgery.

If operable, surgery can cure stomach cancer as long as all of the cancerous tissue can be removed.

Surgery to remove some or all of the stomach is known as a gastrectomy. It will still be possible to lớn eat normally after a gastrectomy, but you"ll probably have lớn adjust the size of your portions. 

Chemotherapy can also be used before surgery to help shrink the tumour & sometimes after surgery to help prevent the cancer returning.

Read more about treating stomach cancer

Living with stomach cancer

Living with stomach cancer and the effects of surgery can be tough, but there are a range of services that can provide social, psychological & financial support.

Read more about living with stomach cancer


Many symptoms of stomach cancer are similar khổng lồ less serious conditions, so it can be difficult to recognise in the early stages.

Early stage symptoms include:

trapped wind & frequent burpingfeeling full very quickly when eatingfeeling bloated after eatingfeeling sickpain in your stomach or breastbonevomiting (the vomit may be streaked with blood), although this is uncommon in the early stages

Advanced stomach cancer

Symptoms of more advanced stomach cancer include:

blood in your stools, or đen stoolsloss of appetiteweight losstirednesslumpiness & swelling in your stomach (caused by a build-up of fluid)yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

When to seek medical help

Stomach cancer is usually easier lớn treat if it"s diagnosed early. It"s therefore important for your GP to lớn refer you khổng lồ a specialist as soon as possible if stomach cancer is suspected.

Stomach cancer is much more common in older people, with 90 out of 100 cases occurring in people who are over 55 years of age.

Indigestion is a very common symptom in the general population. However, it"s unlikely that someone with indigestion who"s under the age of 55 will have stomach cancer.

However, see your GP if you have indigestion & weight loss, anaemia or persistent vomiting. They should refer you to a specialist for further testing.

Also see your GP if you have difficulty swallowing. This isn"t a common symptom among the general population và the cause should always be investigated.

Read more about diagnosing stomach cancer

You can also read more about being referred khổng lồ a stomach cancer specialist on Cancer Research UK. 


Stomach cancer is caused by changes in the cells of the stomach, although it"s unclear exactly why these changes occur.

Cancer begins with a change (mutation) in the structure of the DNA in cells, which can affect how they grow. This means cells grow & reproduce uncontrollably, producing a lump of tissue called a tumour.

Left untreated, cancer can spread lớn other parts of the body, usually through the lymphatic system (a network of vessels & glands called lymph nodes located throughout the body).

Once the cancer reaches your lymphatic system, it"s capable of spreading khổng lồ other parts of your body, including your blood, bones and organs.

It"s not known what triggers the changes in DNA that lead to stomach cancer và why only a small number of people develop the condition.

Increased risk

However, evidence suggests that a number of different factors can affect your chances of developing stomach cancer.

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Age & gender

Your risk of developing stomach cancer increases with age. Most cases occur in people aged 55 or over.

For reasons that are unclear, men are twice as likely as women to develop stomach cancer.

Smoking

People who smoke are about twice as likely to develop stomach cancer compared with non-smokers. This is because you swallow some cigarette smoke when you inhale and it ends up in your stomach. Cigarettes contain harmful chemicals which can damage the cells in your stomach.

The more you smoke và the longer you"ve been smoking, the bigger the risk. In the UK, around 1 in every 5 cases of stomach cancer (20%) is thought khổng lồ be caused by smoking.

H. Pylori infection

Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) is a common type of bacteria. In most people, these bacteria are harmless, but in some people an H. Pylori infection can cause problems such as stomach ulcers, recurring bouts of indigestion or long-term inflammation of the stomach lining (chronic atrophic gastritis).

Research has found people with severe chronic atrophic gastritis have an increased risk of developing stomach cancer, although this risk is still small.

Diet

A diet rich in pickled vegetables, such as pickled onions or piccalilli, salted fish, salt in general & smoked meats, such as pastrami or smoked beef, increases your risk of stomach cancer.

Countries where this type of diet is popular, such as Japan, tend to lớn have much higher rates of stomach cancer than the UK.

A high fibre diet with 5 portions of fruit và vegetables a day will help protect against stomach cancer, và a diet high in fats and processed food and red meat will increase your risk of getting stomach cancer.

Family history

You"re more likely lớn develop stomach cancer if you have a close relative with the condition, such as one of your parents or a sibling (brother or sister). In such cases, it may be appropriate for your doctor lớn arrange genetic counselling.

It"s not fully understood why stomach cancer seems to run in families. It may be because of shared risk factors, such as having similar diets or having an H. Pylori infection, or because of certain genes you inherit from your parents.

In around 1 in 50 cases of stomach cancer, testing has found that people share a mutation in a gen known as E-cadherin.

You may be more at risk of getting the condition if you have the blood type A. Your blood type is passed on from your parents, so this could be another way in which family history may increase your risk of developing stomach cancer.

There"s also a condition that runs in families called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which may increase your risk of developing stomach cancer. FAP causes small growths, called polyps, to size in your digestive system, & is known to increase your risk of developing bowel cancer.

Having another type of cancer

Your risk of developing stomach cancer is increased if you"ve had another type of cancer, such as cancer of the oesophagus or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer that develops in your trắng blood cells).

For men, the risk of getting stomach cancer is increased after having prostate cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer or testicular cancer. For women, the risk of developing stomach cancer increases after having ovarian cancer, breast cancer or cervical cancer.

Certain medical conditions

Having certain medical conditions can also increase your risk of developing stomach cancer, such as pernicious anaemia (a vitamin B12 deficiency, which occurs when your toàn thân can"t absorb it properly), và peptic stomach ulcers (an ulcer in your stomach lining, often caused by H. Pylori infection).

Stomach surgery

If you"ve had stomach surgery, or surgery lớn a part of your body toàn thân that affects your stomach, you may be more likely lớn develop stomach cancer.

This can include surgery lớn remove part of your stomach (known as a partial gastrectomy), surgery khổng lồ remove part of your vagus nerve (the nerve that carries information from your brain to lớn organs such as your heart, lungs và digestive system), or surgery to lớn repair a stomach ulcer.

How stomach cancer spreads

There are 3 ways stomach cancer can spread:

directly – the cancer can spread from the stomach into nearby tissues & organs, such as the pancreas, colon, small intestine and peritoneum (the lining of the inside of the abdominal cavity)through the lymphatic system – the lymphatic system is a series of glands (nodes) located throughout your body, similar to lớn the blood circulatory system; the glands produce specialised cells needed by your immune system khổng lồ fight infectionthrough the blood – which can cause the cancer khổng lồ spread from the stomach lớn other parts of the body, most commonly the liver

Stomach cancer that spreads khổng lồ another part of the toàn thân is known as metastatic stomach cancer.