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Gastric cancer or stomach cancer is one of the major health challenges in the contemporary world. While different strategies to deal with gastric cancer exist, it is imperative to determine the optimal treatment for every individual patient. Gastric cancer is usually caused by normal cells that change to become cancerous. The condition is regarded as one of the major causes of cancer-related deaths globally.
Cancer is a group of diseases that affect the cells in our bodies. It usually occurs when normal cells in the body change into abnormal cells (Shah, Pinheiro & Shah, 2007). The transformed cells continue to grow and eventually cause harm to the normal functioning of the body.
Cancer occurs when normal cells fail to effectively perform their respective functions. For example, instead of having a natural life span in which a normal cell dies and allows daughter cells to carry on the function of that cell, a cancer cell no longer responds to signals that tell it to stop functioning and to die. In addition, cancer cells divide continuously, making an endless supply of daughter cells. Cancer cells therefore live longer and continue to divide and expand non-stop.
Stomach is an organ of digestion located immediately after the esophagus. Usually, food is passed from the mouth through the esophagus and into the stomach (Shah, Pinheiro & Shah, 2007). This paper provides a discussion about gastric cancer or stomach cancer and examines various aspects of the condition.
Description of Gastric Cancer or Stomach Cancer
Gastric cancer or cancer of the stomach occurs when normal cells of the stomach change to become cancerous cells. According to Shah, Pinheiro and Shah (2007), gastric cancer usually refers to adenocarcinoma of the stomach. Drawing from a study by Cabebe (2016), gastric cancer is one of the major causes of cancer-related deaths globally. Ordinarily, gastric cancer affects the wall of the stomach and extends the esophagus all the way to the point linking to the duodenum.
A review of literature reveals two forms of gastric cancer. The first type is referred to as adenocarcinoma or gland-forming cancer and is the most prevalent. Ostensibly, gland-forming cancer is responsible for most cases of gastric cancer. This type of cancer is further categorized into two forms. The first type is referred to as intestinal type and is characterized by swellings that develop around the stomach walls. The swellings are usually caused by cancerous cells.
The second type is diffuse gastric cancer which permeates parts of the stomach as abnormal cells continue to grow. The other form of gastric cancer is referred to as gastrointestinal stromal tumor. This type of gastric cancer is usually as a result of problems that are caused by cells offering support to the stomach. The cells fail to provide the much needed support and this causes serious damage to the walls of the stomach. Despite the fact that this type of cancer may be spotted somewhere within the gastro-intestinal tract, they are mainly experienced in the stomach.
Causes of Gastric Cancer
Most cases of gastric cancer are due to haphazard genetic activities. This is because of the transformation that affects the DNA of cells in the stomach. If the transformation goes undetected, cancer cells begin to appear leading to gastric cancer. As earlier explained cancer cells normally multiply hysterically and are able to reach another state where they can easily evade automatic death that all cells in the body are required to go through in order to create room for the development of other cells.
Other than gastric cancer being caused by the damaging of DNA cells in the body, it may also be passed from parents to children. Families that have a history of gastric cancer are likely to pass it from one generation to another. In addition, cancer of the stomach can be caused by bacteria infection. Typically, these are bacteria that are directly linked to the development of gastric cancer within the victim’s stomach. The bacteria bring about irritation that causes destruction to the cells within the stomach. Gastric cancer can also result from excessive use of alcohol or persistent heart burn.
Signs and Symptoms of Gastric Cancer
According to Cabebe (2016), symptoms are not that obvious during the early stages of gastric cancer. The symptoms become clear as the patient progresses to an advanced stage of the condition. There is thus a danger that gastric cancer may be detected when it is too advanced for curative procedures to be carried out. As noted by Layke and Lopez (2004), up to 80 % of gastric cancer patients tend to be asymptomatic in the early days of the condition.
Despite the challenge noted above, it is still important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of gastric cancer. They include inability to correctly digest food, feeling nauseated, lack of appetite, and weight loss among others.
Diagnosis of Gastric Cancer and Laboratory Tests
The ultimate goal of carrying out laboratory tests is to make sure that doctors are able to access results that will simplify the treatment process. Usually, obtaining the right laboratory results assists doctors to come up with the most appropriate therapy for the patient. Tests that may be done on suspected gastric cancer patients include tests to check the functioning of the liver. Imaging studies may also be undertaken to help during the diagnosis of gastric cancer.
According to Kazansky (2001), laboratory tests provide very valuable data for the diagnosis of gastric cancer. An examination of the gastric contents is extremely important. A considerable diminution of the amount of hydrochloric acid or its total absence is one of the symptoms of gastric cancer. Apparently, methods of ascertaining the presence of cancerous cells either individually or in groups, in gastric contents have been discovered so that gastric cancer can be diagnosed without mistakes (Kazansky, 2001). These include esophagogastroduodenoscopy, a technology that involves an imaging process. The option has been used quite extensively to diagnose gastric cancer.
Treatment Options Available for Patients and Prognosis
The options available for treating gastric cancer include radio therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. Ostensibly, surgery is considered to be the most effective of the three and is thus used quite extensively. However, other options may be used depending on the stage at which a patient has reached.
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According to Malfertheiner (2005), there are three main strategies under development to improve the clinical outcome of patients with advanced gastric cancer. These are adjuvant treatment, neo-adjuvant treatment, and peri-operative therapy. Research also indicates that the risk of developing gastric cancer may be greatly minimized by one taking well balanced meals. Patients should therefore be encouraged to have a good plan for eating healthy.
Without a doubt, gastric cancer a major health challenge in the world today and needs attention from all stakeholders. As explained in this paper, there are different strategies of dealing with the problem. This notwithstanding, medical practitioners must ensure that proper diagnosis is done before embarking on any treatment plan. People should also be educated on the importance of eating meals that are properly balanced.
Cabebe, E. C. (2016). Gastric Cancer. Web.
Kazansky, V. I. (2001). Cancer and Its Prophylactics: Modern Theory of Malignant Tumours. Honolulu, Hawaii: University Press of the Pacific.
Layke, J. C. & Lopez, P. P. (2004). Gastric Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment Options. American Family Physician, 69(5): 1133 – 1141.
Malfertheiner, P. (2005). New Developments in the Management of Gastric Cancer. New York: Karger Medical and Scientific Publishers.
Shah, M. A., Pinheiro, N. A. & Shah, B. (2007). 100 Questions & Answers about Gastric Cancer. Boston, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.