What is Stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer or gastric cancer is cancer developing from the lining of the stomach. Early symptoms may include heartburn, upper abdominal pain, nausea and loss of appetite. The most common cause is infection by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which accounts for more than 60% of cases. --> Other common causes include eating pickled vegetables and smoking. About 10% of cases run in families and between 1% and 3% of cases are due to genetic syndromes inherited from a person's parents such as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. Most cases of stomach cancers are gastric carcinomas. This type can be divided into a number of subtypes. Lymphomas and mesenchymal tumors may also develop within the stomach. Most of the time, stomach cancer develops through a number of stages over a number of years. Diagnosis is usually by biopsy done during endoscopy. This is then followed by medical imaging to determine if the disease has spread to other parts of the body. Japan and South Korea, two countries that have high rates of disease, screen for stomach cancer.
A Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of cancer as does the stopping of smoking. There is tentative evidence that treating H. pylori decreases the future risk. Treatments may include some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. If treated late, palliative care may be advised. Outcomes are often poor with a less than 10% 5-year survival rate globally. This is largely because most people with the condition present with advanced disease.
Globally stomach cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer and the third leading cause of death from cancer making up 7% of cases and 9% of deaths. In 2012 it occurred in 950,000 people and caused 723,000 deaths. This is believed to be due to the eating of less salted and pickled foods as a result of the development of refrigeration as a method of keeping food fresh. Stomach cancer occurs most commonly in East Asia and Eastern Europe and it occurs twice as often in males as in females.