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Stomach Cancer Blog

 

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How to Prepare for Stomach Cancer Treatment

 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is very difficult and stressful. However, by being as proactive and prepared as possible, treatment can be more tolerable. While the experience is not one that anyone wants to have, being prepared is the first step to getting better and to getting the most from your treatment as possible.

Depending on the treatment options chosen, preparing for treatment can vary. There are essentially three different ways to treat stomach cancer.

1.     Surgery. Depending on which surgery option is chosen, there are ways to prepare for each treatment. The biggest preparation to make is to ensure that you have spoken in depth with your surgeon. This includes finding out exactly how much of the stomach is slated to be removed. Some surgeons will try to keep as much of the stomach intact as possible. The risk with this is that leaving too much stomach behind may in fact increase the risk of the cancer returning. Knowing the plan for your surgery is the best way to be prepared in the event that you need to make some changes to your surgery plan. It is important to make sure that you are comfortable with the plan that is in place to treat the cancer.

2.     Chemotherapy. This is a fairly common treatment option for those with stomach cancer and it can often be used in tandem with other treatments. For chemotherapy, it is important to remember that you will not be able to always do everything you could when not in treatment. So, it is important to get in the rhythm of doing things a bit differently even before you start treatment. Prepare for chemotherapy by starting to make changes before the treatment starts. For example, get used to washing your hands often. This is something you will need to do during treatment. Try to avoid all uncooked, fresh vegetables or fruits or really any other food that might carry germs. You will most likely not be able to eat these during treatment. Also, try to avoid plants and flowers to avoid any potential exposure to mold. Doing these things before treatment can help you be prepared for what you will need to do during treatment.

3.     Radiation. There are some specific preparatory steps that need to be taken before you can start your radiation treatment. You will need to make sure that you have measurements taken to ensure that the radiation hits the necessary area and in the proper dose amount. You should also be prepared for the side effects that can take place as a result of radiation. These side effects include diarrhea, low blood cell counts, skin problems, vomiting, fatigue, and nausea.

Signs you May Want to Get Checked for Stomach Cancer

There are several different symptoms of stomach cancer, many of which could be confused for other conditions. If symptoms are combined with any of the known factors that can increase the risk of the disease, it may be time to get checked for stomach cancer.

The symptoms of stomach cancer can progress over time. During the earliest stages of stomach cancer, it is likely that you may experience fewer symptoms. Some of these potential symptoms include the following:

·      Feeling bloated after eating

·      Loss of appetite

·      Indigestion

·      Overall stomach discomfort

·      Heartburn

·      Mild nausea

These symptoms can be indicative of other conditions as well including simple indigestion, heartburn, or an ulcer. However, if you have these symptoms it is important to have them checked to rule out stomach cancer. That is primarily because stomach cancer can grow rapidly. In fact, the cancer can grow to be a very big size before any other symptoms become present.

Once the cancer has progressed to a more advanced stage, the following symptoms might be observed:

·      Blood in the stool

·      Vomiting blood

·      Vomiting

·      Pain/Bloated following eating

·      Abdomen discomfort

If any of these symptoms are partnered with the factors that are known to increase getting the disease, it is imperative to seek out medical attention. These risk factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

·      Race. It is more common for Asians and African-Americans to get stomach cancer.

·      Blood Type. Those with type A blood are more likely to get stomach cancer.

·      Gender. Men have an increased risk of getting stomach cancer.

·      Age. Those who are over aged 65 are more likely to get stomach cancer.

·      Family History. A family history that involves any type of stomach cancer can really increase the risk of getting stomach cancer. In fact, it can double or triple the risk.

·      Lifestyle. There are lifestyle choices that make it more common to get stomach cancer. These include eating a diet that is low in fresh vegetables and fruits but high in smoked or salted foods. Smoking and drinking excessive alcohol can also increase your risk of getting stomach cancer.

As soon as these known symptoms have been identified and experienced, it is time to get checked by your physician. However, if you feel that you are experiencing the symptoms that accompany a more advanced stage in the cancer, it is imperative that you seek out medical advice, especially if you are in any of the groups that are at a higher risk for getting the disease. Stomach cancer can grow very quickly and often goes undetected because the symptoms can so often be attributed to something else. Because of this reason, it is never foolish to get checked just to be safe. 

How Gastric Cancer Affects Other Organs

 

It’s important after diagnosis of stomach cancer to immediately determine how other organs will be affected by the cancer and by its treatments. The small area of the torso in which the stomach lives and its close proximity to a number of different organs makes it easier to spread. The position of the stomach in the body lends itself to many patients feeling concerned when they start to think of the likelihood of their cancer moving to other nearby organs. Stomach cancer can affect not only nearby organs but also nearby lymph nodes. The cancer can move through three different channels in the body: the lymph system, tissue, and blood. Depending on which channel is used, the new cancer may develop in a nearby organ or could in fact develop in an organ that is really nowhere near the stomach.

First, it is quite possible for a tumor that originated in the stomach to start growing outside of the stomach. This can happen if the tumor grows right through the stomach’s outermost layer. In this instance, the tumor can grow out of the stomach and right into a nearby organ, most likely the intestine, esophagus, or pancreas.

Secondly, stomach cancer can also spread through the bloodstream system. In this instance, it would be most likely to spread to the lungs or liver.

Lastly, cancer cells have the potential to travel through the lymphatic system. This means that the cancer can land in lymph nodes really anywhere in the body. So, cancer could transfer from the stomach to another organ and the organ does not even need to be in close proximity to the stomach.

When stomach cancer spreads from its original location, the new tumor is really the same kind of cluster of cells that was the first tumor. This means that if the original tumor began in the stomach but later infected the liver and developed a tumor inside the liver, that tumor would still be comprised of stomach cancer cells. It is not then liver cancer that the patient has developed; it would be metastatic stomach cancer. If this new tumor needed to be treated, it would be treated in the same way that any other stomach cancer would be treated. That may be different from how liver cancer would be treated, but again a tumor that moved from the stomach to any other location is still considered stomach cancer and calls for appropriate stomach cancer treatment.

The State of Cancer Care 2014 - ASCO Report

 

The State of Cancer Care in America: 2014 from ASCO:
 

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued The State of Cancer Care in America: 2014.  The Report states that, "This is a time of extraordinary change and opportunity in cancer care. A dynamic and integrally related combination of scientific and technological advances, healthcare policy changes and demographic shifts is reshaping virtually every aspect of oncology. This transformation has profound implications for millions of people with cancer and their families in the United States and around the world. Representing nearly 35,000 oncologists and other oncology professionals who care for people with cancer, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is committed to ensuring that Americans have access to high-quality, high-value cancer prevention and
treatment services—and that all patients benefit fully from our nation’s investments in cancer research. In The State of Cancer Care in America: 2014, ASCO examines the many factors that affect our nation’s ability to reach these goals, from current and projected demand for services and oncologist workforce supply to the full range of economic, regulatory and administrative pressures that oncology practices face. This report also examines how a growing emphasis on quality measurement and demonstration of value, together with the rapid expansion of health information technology, stands to improve the care that patients receive.  ASCO presents this overview of the current state of cancer care in the United States with an eye to the future. The report includes recommendations intended for policymakers, cancer care professionals, researchers, and others with a stake in improving our nation’s cancer care system.

The Report continues to say that, "The U.S. cancer care system is among the best in the world, but it is facing a growing number of challenges that threaten its sustainability. Workforce stresses, escalating costs, uneven access to care, and a volatile practice environment are combining to create what the Institute of Medicine has called “a system in crisis” in need of urgent intervention.101 This first annual report to the nation on the state of cancer care in America offers insight into many issues raised by the IOM and provides recommendations for action. By taking these steps, the cancer community will be able to move beyond crisis mode to achieve a high-functioning, rapid learning system that promotes progress and delivers patient-centered, high-value care for every individual with cancer." The report states that the recommendations contained in it are "critical to addressing the wide swath of issues confronting the U.S. cancer care delivery system".  Here is the full report - http://www.asco.org/sites/www.asco.org/files/cancerinamerica2014-lowres_1.pdf

Things You May Not Know about Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer, like most other variations of cancer, can be elusive and confusing. Because of this, there are a number of things you may not know, but should know, about stomach cancer:

1.      Stomach cancer can also be referred to as gastric cancer.

2.      Stomach cancer is actually a growth or cluster of abnormal cells that are found in the wall or lining of the stomach, depending on how advance the cancer.

3.      Most people don’t know who are most likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer. The most prevalent diagnosis of stomach cancer are in men, older people, smokers, those who drink a lot of alcohol, and those who consume a diet high in salty foods. There are also groups that may be at a higher risk for getting stomach cancer. These include Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans.

4.      Stomach cancer is not entirely preventable. However, the risk for getting stomach cancer can be reduced in a number of ways. First, alcohol consumption as well as cigarette smoking should be reduced. Secondly, diet should include a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit. Vitamin C is important to consume and can be found in grapefruits and oranges.

5.      Stomach cancer is usually not detectable unless a doctor examines you. That means that stomach cancer can be present for quite some time before it is ever really noticed or before any symptoms occur.

6.      Many people don’t realize that the symptoms for stomach cancer can very easily be perceived as indigestion or other stomach discomfort. That’s why if any stomach discomfort is on-going, a physician should be consulted as soon as possible. Common symptoms for stomach cancer are heartburn, indigestion, belly discomfort, loss of appetite, bloating, and nausea. These are the early symptoms. If the cancer has been growing for a longer period of time, there may also be vomiting, stomach pain, blood in the stool, and weight loss.

7.      Not many people know how stomach cancer is detected. It can be detected by an x-ray that is taken of the stomach. Prior to the x-ray, the person being tested is instructed to drink a liquid that contains barium. This substance makes it easier to see the stomach on the x-ray. It is also possible for your doctor to check your stomach using a scope that is lowered down your throat and in to your stomach. This enables the doctor to see the stomach from an internal perspective. This procedure is most often accompanied by something to make the patient feel more comfortable.

8.      Lastly, most don’t know how stomach cancer is treated. However, like other cancers, the treatment options are varied and depend on just where the cancer is located and if it has spread anywhere else. Treatment options include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation or a combination of any of the three.

In Memory of Tributes



FirstGiving is a wonderful way to honor the memory of a loved one. Start a page in memory of your loved one at http://www.firstgiving.com/DebbiesDreamFoundation.  You can include photos and personalize the page too.  It is a beautiful tribute to those we have lost to stomach cancer.

About the Stages of Stomach Cancer

Once diagnosed with stomach cancer, tests are performed to see exactly what stage the cancer is. This includes a process of testing to determine if cancer cells have spread within the stomach or to other areas of the body. There are a few different tests that can be performed during the staging process. These tests can include:

·      Endoscopy (EGD)

·      Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)

·      PET scan (positron emission tomography scan)

·      CT scan (CAT scan)

These tests are performed because stomach cancer can spread throughout the body, primarily through three different ways: through the lymph system, blood, or tissue.

The following are the diagnosis stages of gastric, or stomach, cancer.

Stage 0: This is when abnormal cells are found in the innermost layer of the lining of the stomach, also known as the mucosa. These cells may eventually turn in to cancer cells and spread to other areas. This stage can also be referred to as carcinoma in situ.

Stage 1: This is the first stage at which the cancer has fully formed inside the mucosa. Stage 1 is divided into two different stages, each one dependent upon where the cancer has spread.

Stage 1A: In this stage, it is possible that the cancer has spread into the next layer of lining in the stomach wall, also known as the submucosa.

Stage 1B: Here, cancer has either spread to the muscle layer of the stomach wall or could have spread into the submucosa. If spread into the submucosa, it may be found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes in the area closest to the tumor.

Stage II: Again, there are two subcategories in stage II, depending upon where the cancer has spread.

Stage IIA: Here the cancer could have spread to three possible locations: the muscle layer of the stomach and 1 or 2 lymph nodes, the submucosa, or the submucosa and 3 to 6 lymph nodes nearest the tumor.

Stage IIB: Here there are four possible locations for the cancer. They are the muscle layer of the stomach wall along with 3 to 6 lymph nodes, the outermost layer of the stomach wall (serosa), the submucosa and 7 or more lymph nodes, or the subserosa and 1 or 2 lymph nodes.

Stage III: Stage III can be divided into three different categories depending on where the cancer has spread.

Stage IIIA: There are three possibilities in this stage. They are the muscle layer of the stomach wall with a minimum of 7 lymph nodes, the serosa and 1-2 lymph nodes, or the subserosa in addition to 3-6 lymph nodes.

Stage IIIB: In this stage, the cancer could have spread to three locations including the serosa and 3-6 lymph nodes, the subserosa and a minimum of 7 lymph nodes, or close organs including, but not limited to, the pancreas, kidneys, small intestine, and spleen.

Stage IV: For the cancer to get to this stage it means that is has spread to other, more distant parts and areas of the body.

Can Stomach Cancer be Hereditary?

Can Stomach Cancer be Hereditary?

Recent research has uncovered several different risk factors that are linked to higher chances of developing stomach cancer.  Most risk factors of developing stomach factors include things other than genes and heredity.  However, there is one genetic condition that is strongly linked to developing stomach cancer and that is hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. This is a syndrome that is inherited and can greatly increase the likelihood of getting stomach cancer. However, this condition is actually quite rare occurring in approximately 150 families worldwide. But if you do have the condition, it increases your chances of getting stomach cancer quite considerably. In fact, those who have the condition have a lifetime stomach cancer risk of about 70% to 80%. This condition is caused by a gene mutation, for which there is actually a test available. Again, the condition is rare, but will substantially increase the risk of getting stomach cancer.

However, for most people who do get stomach cancer, there are no known genetic links. For most, their stomach cancer developed as a result of some other risk factor. For those countries where stomach cancer is most common it seems that the following risk factors are far more strongly linked to developing the disease than heredity:

  • Lifestyle. Smoking and drinking excessively has been shown to have a strong link to developing the condition. This is also true of a diet low in fruits and vegetables but high in salted and preserved foods. Obesity is also a risk factor for getting stomach cancer.
  • Helicobactor pylori. This is an infection that can cause inflammation along the lining of the stomach as well as indigestion. Its existence, especially for a prolonged period of time, has also been linked with developing stomach cancer.
  • Pernicious anemia. This is a disorder that impacts the lining of the stomach. Its results are anemia and low levels of B12.
  • Atrophic Gastritis. This is a known stomach infection that seems to be chronic and ongoing.
  • Familial Polyposis. This is a condition that is actually genetically linked. In this condition, the patient develops and grows several polyps all along the lining of the digestive system.
  • Type A blood. Type A blood is also a risk factor for getting stomach cancer. This could be considered to be genetically linked though the exact linkage is unknown.

Of all of these conditions, only familial polyposis and pernicious anemia can be genetically linked or passed down from one generation to the next. Of course, though very rare, hereditary diffuse gastric cancer does create a strong link to stomach cancer.

What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer is a disease affecting thousands of men and women around the world. It can be deadly, as it can easily and very quickly spread to other areas of the body, especially if you are not treated in time. There are a number of signs and symptoms of stomach cancer. While most of the time these signs and symptoms are merely other problems, it is necessary that you address the problem and rule out cancer. It is always better to be safe than to be sorry, especially when talking about something as serious as cancer.

Stomach Cancer Symptoms

Here are some of the symptoms of stomach cancer:

-       Pain in the abdomen
-       Loss of appetite
-       Blood in the stool
-       Persistent nausea and vomiting
-       Changes in bowel movements
-       Bloating
-       Loss of weight when you are not trying to lose weight
-       Pain

These are just some of the sign and symptoms of stomach cancer but remember it is not always cancer that can cause these problems. Many different conditions are possible.

When to visit the Doctor

If you are concerned that stomach cancer could be affecting you then it is imperative that you make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. Again, it may not be stomach cancer but this is really not a risk that you want to take. The doctor can perform several tests to determine if you have stomach cancer or some other type of condition causing your problems. If you are bothered with the signs and symptoms listed above, it is recommended that you make an appointment to see a doctor.

If you have the symptoms of stomach cancer, the doctor will perform a series of tests to determine your condition. This can include an endoscopy and a biopsy if it is determined that you have cancer. There are also PET scans, CT scan, MRIs, and other tests that can be used to determine if you have stomach cancer.

Make that Appointment

The sooner you see the doctor, the sooner that treatment can begin. It is possible that seeing the doctor quickly can save your life, so do not wait to make an appointment. Cancer is a serious matter and must be addressed immediately.

How many other people have stomach cancer and are diagnosed each year?

Stomach cancer is one of many different types of cancer that an individual can be affected with. It is also one of the most serious of all of the cancers, although it is not as common as some of the other types of cancers that are out there. If you are concerned about stomach cancer, then understanding stomach cancer, the people that are getting it, and the number of people that are being diagnosed with it each year can help you greatly.

The Statistics of Stomach Cancer: Be in the Know

According to the American Cancer Society there are around 21,650 new cases of stomach cancer diagnosed every year in the United States. Of those people there are around 11,000 deaths each year.

Who Does stomach Cancer Affect?

Stomach cancer is a disease that can affect anyone, although it is more commonly seen in older adults. It is estimated that two out of three people who develop stomach cancer are older than 65 years of age. The risk of developing this kind of cancer is rare and it is a risk of about 1 in 116. Usually the sign and symptoms of stomach cancer are similar to other types of diseases and conditions. Men are more susceptible to stomach cancer than women but this is not to say that women are not also affected.

Other Parts of the World

According to the American Cancer Society this particular type of cancer is more commonly seen in other countries, besides the USA. While it was once the leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States, technology and improvements in the medical field have changed things so this is no longer the case.

If you have Stomach Cancer

There are several things that you should do if you feel that you have cancer. Of course, making an appointment with the doctor as soon as possible is something that you should do. The doctor can perform a full evaluation and if necessary, further testing. An oncologist will be the doctor who you see regularly if it is determined that you do have stomach cancer. If caught early enough, there are many things that can be done for treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.  If caught later, the options may be different.  Ask your doctor!

Be sure that you take the time to look for the right doctor if you have stomach cancer. There is plenty of research that you can do to find the doctor who will be best for your treatment. Taking this time will ensure that you are able to receive the best treatment possible.

The good news is that the risk of stomach cancer is lower than other types and many technological improvements are ensuring that help is available when it is needed. There is help and there is hope if you have stomach cancer.

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