Gastric Cancer

What is Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer is also called stomach cancer. It is an abnormal growth of cells in your stomach that is cancerous (malignant).

What are the causes?

The exact cause of gastric cancer is not known.

What increases the risk?

  • Being older than 65.
  • Being male.
  • Being Asian American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, or African American.
  • Eating a diet high in smoked, salted, or pickled foods.
  • Using any tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or electronic cigarettes.
  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • History of:
    • Stomach surgery.
    • Chronic gastritis.
    • Gastric polyps.
    • Pernicious anemia.
  • Stomach infection with H. pyloribacteria.
  • Family history of gastric cancer.
  • Having blood type A.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Feeling full after eating a small meal.
  • Problems swallowing.
  • Nausea.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Excessive gas or belching.
  • Losing weight unintentionally.
  • Vomiting. This may include vomiting blood.
  • Fatigue.

How is this diagnosed?

Your health care provider may ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam. Other tests that may be done include:

  • Barium swallow.
  • Endoscopic exam.
  • CT scan.
  • A tissue sample test (biopsy).

If gastric cancer is confirmed, it will be staged to determine its severity and extent. Staging is an assessment of:

  • The size of the tumor.
  • Whether or not the cancer has spread.
  • Where the cancer has spread.

How is this treated?

Treatment for gastric cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Treatment may include one or more of the following:

  • Surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible (gastrectomy).
  • Chemotherapy. This treatment uses medicines to kill the cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells.
  • Targeted drug therapy. These medicines block the growth and spread of cancer. This treatment is different from standard chemotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy. This is also called biological therapy. It is an emerging treatment that strengthens your body’s defense (immune) system to fight the cancer cells.
  • Antibiotic medicines may be used to treat H. pyloriinfection.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Talk to your health care provider about the best diet and eating plan for you. This may include eating more fruits and vegetables. This may also include avoiding:
    • Red meat.
    • Processed meats.
    • Salty foods.
    • Smoked foods.
    • Pickled foods.
  • Take medicines only as directed by your health care provider.
  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, finish it all even if you start to feel better.
  • Talk with your health care provider about limiting or avoiding alcohol.
  • Do notuse any tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or electronic cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as directed by your health care provider.
  • Consider joining a support group.
  • Seek advice to help you manage side effects of treatment.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have difficulty eating.
  • You have problems with your medicines.
  • You continue to lose weight unintentionally.
  • You have a fever.

Get help right away if:

  • You have uncontrolled nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • You have uncontrolled pain.
  • You vomit blood or black material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You faint.

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