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What is Stomach Cancer ?

Scientists may still be at large as to what causes Gastric cancer cells to grow in the stomach. However, it is known that cancer can spread through the blood, lymph system and tissues. Many cancer patients succumb when the primary tumour metastases and spreads. The stages and stomach cancer treatment are indicated as

stomach cancer

Stage 0: This stage means cancerous cells are present and may give rise to cancers. Surgery of the lymph nodes and stomach removal cure it.
Stage I: At this stage, the tumour spreads from the stomach to the lymph nodes. Surgery and chemoradiation or medications may help.
Stage II: The cancer is deep-rooted and has already spread across lymph nodes, stomach lining and the inner layers. Surgery and chemoradiation or medications may help.
Stage III: Cancer could spread to the spleen, colon, liver etc. Surgery and chemoradiation or medications may help.
Stage IV: In this phase, the cancer is widespread and affects the lungs, liver, brain etc. It is hard to treat though drugs may provide relief.
Sometimes the tumour can block the GI system and may require gastric cancer treatment like:

  • Laser radiation through an endoscope.
  • Stenting procedures.
  • Bypass gastric surgery.
  • Partial stomach removal.

What are the causes of stomach cancer ?

The exact causes of the growth of cancer cells in the stomach need more research. However, it is well-known that

  • H. pylori may cause ulcers that can lead to stomach cancer.
  • Gastritis inflammations can cause pernicious anaemia leading to cysts and polyps that may lead to cancer.

Besides, these other gastric cancer causes may be:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Ulcer surgeries
  • Salty, pickled and smoked foods.
  • Blood Type-A
  • Genetic predisposition to cancer.
  • Infection from the Epstein-Barr virus.
  • Asbestos exposure
  • Rubber, coal and metal industry workers.

What are the symptoms and signs of Stomach Cancer ?

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling bloated after eating
  • Feeling full after eating small amounts of food
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Sweet-smelling odour.

Other symptoms noticed are

  • Fever
  • Vomiting blood
  • Muscle cramps
  • Enlarged spleen and abdomen

Note: Midas Hospitals recommends that symptoms of cancer are not to be self-diagnosed and need urgent medical help, a proper diagnosis, and treatment as recommended by a team of gastroenterologists and physicians.

How is stomach cancer diagnosed?

Stomach or Gastric Cancer, when suspected by the doctors, is usually symptomatic based and maybe through:
Physical Exam: The doctor generally will check symptoms like stomach pain, bloating etc., alcohol consumption, medical history and medications taken. The physical examination of your belly may involve checking for pain, swelling and tenderness by applying hand pressure on the belly region.
Blood tests to assess cancer in the stomach may check for a variety of factors. The doctor may order tests like

  • Prothrombin clotting time
  • Anaemia, RBC, blood picture and haemoglobin levels.
  • ALT- Alanine transaminase and AST- Aspartate transaminase tests
  • Albumin test.
  • Bilirubin levels
  • Creatinine level
  • Stool test of faecal occult blood test
  • Sodium levels
  • Upper gastric endoscopy where a camera in a small pipe is non-invasively used to study the GI tract and stomach and conduct biopsies.

Imaging tests: Permit the doctor to see the inside of the stomach and may include an-invasive tests like

  • Xray of chest
  • Ultrasound scans of stomach
  • CT and PET scans of the abdomen
  • MRI scanning.
  • Barium meal test with stomach x-rays to help if it is cancer, how far it has spread and if the treatment is working.

 Organ function tests:

  • Kidney and Liver function tests
  • EKG or echocardiogram

Invasive tests:

  • Laparoscopic surgery/ biopsy
  • Peritoneal washing
  • Biopsy where a small tissue sample is used to detect cancer. If it is cancer, then further tests are ordered like the

HER2 testing: This cancer is caused by an excess of the HER2 growth hormone and can be treated with drugs targeting this protein. The test submitted to FISH- fluorescent in situ hybridisation/IHC-immunohistochemistry is scaled from zero to 3. Between 0-1, it is unlikely that drugs treating it will work, 2 meaning it is clear, and 3 meaning HER positive.
Protein and gene testing: tests for PD-LI immune checkpoint protein, dMMR a mismatch repair gene and MSI-H or microsatellite instability, TMB-H high tumour mutational burden are treated with Keytruda (pembrolizumab).
Targeted testing: for NTRK gene testing may use drugs to target the gene.

What is the treatment for Stomach cancer and what type of medicines are recommended?

Treatment Options are dependent on the cancer type and treated by teams of doctors. Some options are

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Clinical testing trials and targeted therapy.


  • Cancer treatment depends on the stage of cancer.
  • Cancer treatment has many physiological, mental, financial and societal side effects.
  • Follow-up tests and biopsies of lymph nodes, other affected body parts may also be needed.

What the patient can do?

There are things you can do that could lower your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get some physical form of exercise.
  • Drink green tea.
  • Eat vegetables and fresh fruits like grapefruits, citrus fruits, whole grains, vegetables etc. and avoid alcohol, smoking, sugary beverages, red meats and processed foods.
  • Check and seek treatment for H. pylori infections.
  • Take aspirin as per the doctor’s advice.
  • Check your genetic history and predisposal factors to HDGC cancer, Lynch syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome early.

What are the warning signs of Stomach Cancer ?

If you observe any of these symptoms, Midas Hospitals suggests you consult a doctor urgently.

  • Blood in the vomit.
  • Bloody stools or brownish urine.
  • Confusion, tiredness and daytime sleeping.
    Note: These conditions are serious, and if you notice them in your child Midas Hospitals recommends that you consult a doctor right away.

If you have any or all of these symptoms mentioned, approach the doctors in Midas Hospitals for cancer evaluation and treatment. Stick to the cessation of smoking and liquor to prevent further inflammation and never self-medicate.

Can stomach cancer be cured?

Stage 4 cancers are hard to beat, and most cancer treatments can only prevent the spread of the disease.

Is a cancer of the stomach aggressive?

Stomach cancer is very aggressive and generally never forms tumours or a mass, making it hard to detect. Cancer is typically genetics dependent, and your family history can help an early diagnosis.

Why do H. pylori infections lead to cancer?

The H Pylori bacteria cause stomach ulcers. It is also hard to detect and takes many years before being detected. Thus it may lead to cancer.

What are end-stage symptoms of stomach cancer?

Generally, the end-stage has extreme exhaustion, weakness, sleeping most of the time, muscle loss, weight loss etc.

Can stomach cancer be misdiagnosed?

At times there are no clear causes, symptoms or signs of stomach cancer like duodenal gastric ulcers, and may just be treated as loss of appetite, weight loss being unexplained, nausea, anaemia etc.