This article is based on a new research in which the researchers have made a new discovery where they have found that the individuals who are suffering from the stomach cancer can get a lot of benefits by having chemotherapy. In this article along with the research, we will mention a brief summary about stomach’s anatomy, understanding the cancer of the stomach, symptoms, diagnosis, staging, treatment, nutrition and follow up care so that our readers will have an extensive review and understanding on a lot of different topics that are mentioned above.
Stomach is a very important part of our digestive system. The stomach is a bag like structure that is connected above to the esophagus and below to the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. The food moves down the esophagus and then enters the stomach with the contractions of the esophagus and then when it reaches the stomach, the food is being acted upon by the acid being produced in the stomach and is broken down into small particles so that when it passes through the rest of the gastrointestinal tract, the active ingredients can be absorbed through it very easily. The food stays for a period of about 2-3 hours in the stomach.
It is really important to understand for us as to how the cancer begins. We all know that the single living unit that our body is made up of is cell and these cells combine together to form tissue and these tissues combine together to form organs. The cells are what normally transforms and they then form a mass of tissue, which is known as tumor. The tumor can be either benign or malignant. The benign tumors are not life threatening and they are encapsulated, but on the other hand the malignant tumor is what metastasizes and thus causes lethal damage to the body and spread from one organ to another.
The process with which the malignant cancer metastasizes to other organ systems is through the lymph nodes, lymph vessels, blood vessels and direct invasions. The stomach tumor grows through the tissue and directly invades the organs such as pancreas, esophagus or the intestine. The other organs that the tumor spreads to include liver and lungs and the spread to these organs occur through the blood vessels, and the cancer cells can also spread to the entire body through the lymphatic system.
The exact reason why the stomach cancer occurs is not exactly known but there are a lot of risk factors that increases the development of this disease. The risk factors includes age and the people in which the stomach cancer occur are mostly 72 years or older. Other risk factors include sex, in which men are most likely to develop stomach cancer than women. Asians are the ones who are most commonly affected by stomach cancer. Another risk factor includes the ingestion of smoked, salted or pickled food and the people who are in a habit of eating these foods are at risk of developing the stomach cancer. H. pylori infection also increases the risk of the development of the stomach cancer, but there are very few people in whom this infection can lead to stomach cancer. People who smoke are also at increased risk of developing stomach cancer, as well as individuals who have a strong family history of stomach cancer are at high risk of developing it.
The symptoms that occur due to the development of stomach cancer include discomfort in the stomach, a feeling of being full, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as weight loss. It is not necessary that any individual who is going through these symptoms is suffering from the stomach cancer, but it is not necessary that the individual who is going through these symptoms is truly suffering from stomach cancer. If any one is going through these symptoms must contact the doctor and tell the physician of when these symptoms started and a detailed history of them so that it is easier for the doctor to make a diagnosis and to order the investigations.
The investigative procedure includes the physical examination in which the doctor palpates the abdomen to detect any masses. The upper GI x-rays of the esophagus and stomach and these x-rays are taken after a barium swallow because the barium makes the abdomen illuminated and helps to see as to what are the defects that are present. Endoscopy is another investigation in which the endoscope is being passed down the esophagus and the stomach is being visualized. With the endoscopy the walls of the stomach can be seen as well as biopsy of the stomach tissue is being obtained and the tissue sample that is being taken is then seen under the microscope and hence the diagnosis of cancer is being established.
In order to plan the treatment of a patient, it is very important that the stage of the cancer is being known. In order to understand the staging of the cancer, we will explain the TNM staging of cancers. In the TNM staging, the T stands for the size of the tumor, N stands for the nodal involvement, M stands for the metastasis. When the tumor is being diagnosed through histology, the next step is staging and then the tumor is being determined of its size, nodal involvement and the level of the metastasis, which helps to determine as to the prognosis, as well as to select the treatment options that would suit the best for the patient. If there is small size of the tumor and there is no nodal involvement and the tumor has not metastasized, then the patient undergoes chemotherapy and radiation depending on the decision of the physician. If the patient has a large tumor size and there is nodal involvement but no metastasis, then the decision can be to excise the tumor in its entirety so that it does not metastasize because it is going towards the trend of enlarging and involving the nodes. On the other hand if the tumor has metastasized then more conservative approach is being considered or the removal of the organ that has the metastasis is being considered to be excised, so every situation has its own way of its management and that will all be taken by your physician specialist.
The treatment of cancer is again as described above can be either radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery depending on the situation and therefore it is very important to analyze the situation in depth by your physician. Normally under such circumstances there is a board of doctors who sit together and put down the case and determine as to what would be the best approach in managing the situation and delineate the right steps of treatment. Once the steps are being delineated, your doctor will then share their decision with you and your family and will tell you of what options that they have seen are best for you and then they throw the ball in the patient’s court so that they could decide whether they are satisfied with the approach or not.
The doctor also explains the side effects of the therapies that the patient is going to have and that side effects differ from person to person. The side effects from the radiation therapy includes loss of hair, fatigue, malaise, low blood count, erythema of the skin, dryness of the mucosal membranes, connective tissue scarring and fibrosis etc. The side effects of the chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting, hair loss and bone marrow suppression.
It is really important for the individuals who are undergoing treatment to take the proper caloric requirements because nutrition is very important to be at its best because it will give more energy and will improve the health and will aid in the speedy recovery of the individual undergoing the cancer treatment. There are patients who really don’t like to eat much because of bad taste, these individuals can arrange for foods of their choice that they like the best and can also get help from a registered dietitian to help them plan their diet so that they are taking proper diet and maintaining the proper caloric requirements that they need on a daily basis.
According to the latest research it is being found that the patients who are suffering from stomach cancer can get a lot of benefit from chemotherapy before and after the surgery. This research was conducted over a span of more than five years where the doctors gave chemotherapy before and after surgery to the patients and it was found out that the patients who received the chemotherapy before and after the surgery had a 36% survival rate as compared to the 23% who only had surgery. The chemotherapeutic regimen that is being used in the patients suffering from stomach cancer includes epirubicin, cisplatin, and fluorouracil, and there are also newer drugs that are being available and under trial so that more beneficial therapeutic regimens are available to the stomach cancer patients.
This is a very big breakthrough because this therapeutic regimen increases the rate of survival of the individuals and thus it will be helping a lot of people who are suffering from stomach cancer. There is a very stunning statistic that has also been brought into attention, which is that there will be about 22,300 new cases that will be diagnosed this year and there will be about 11,400 people who will be dying because of this disease.