Stomach cancer starts in the mucus-generating cells, which make up the inner walls of your stomach. It results from a sudden genetic change in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of the cells. This causes the cells to grow, replicate, and expand at an uncontrollable rate. They continue to survive and strive even after most of the normal cells die out. The abnormal cells then accumulate together to form a tumor that affects nearby tissues. The cancerous cells soon separate from the tumor to spread to the other parts of your body. This is when you become seriously sick and need to see an oncologist for treatment.
Dr. Paolo Boffetta – What are the common symptoms of stomach cancer?
Dr. Paolo Boffetta is a popular Italian epidemiologist with over 30 years of valuable experience in cancer research. He has made immense contributions to understanding how various factors influence the development of cancer. These include the environment, nutrition, smoking, alcohol consumption, and occupation. He is in the editorial boards of many popular scientific journals like Cancer Discovery, Disease Markers, Biomarkers, Annals of Oncology, and Cancer Medicine. He has even held important positions in some of the top cancer research institutions in the world. The most important among them include the Karolinska Institute, US National Cancer Institute, and The American Cancer Society. Currently, he is the Director at The Institute for Translational Epidemiology.
He says people suffering from stomach cancer exhibit any one or more of the following symptoms:
- persistent heartburn,
- severe indigestion,
- a bloated feeling after having their meals,
- stomach pains,
- sudden weight loss and
When you experience any of these complications, you should immediately visit your doctor. He will carry out an initial diagnosis to either confirm or dispel your doubts. He might insist you undergo a couple of medical tests. These include endoscopy, CT scan, and an x-ray known as a barium swallow. You even have to take a biopsy if the tests reveal something suspicious in your stomach.
Your doctor might confirm through his diagnosis that you are suffering from stomach cancer. He will have to determine the cellular nature of your tumor by conducting a PET scan. This will give him an idea of what stage of cancer you are at. Then he will prescribe any one or combination of following treatments for you:
- Surgery to remove the part of your stomach which contains the tumor,
- Chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor and destroy the remaining cancer cells,
- Give you targeted therapy drugs which kill specific abnormalities in the cancer cells, and
- Use high-power proton beams to eradicate the cancer cells in your stomach (radiation therapy).
As Dr. Paolo Boffetta concludes stomach cancer occurs when there is a genetic change of mucus-generating cells of your stomach. They start to grow rapidly and accumulate to form a tumor. You start experiencing stomach pains, heartburns, indigestion, fatigue, and a bloated feeling. You even start to lose a lot of weight. This is when you should see your doctor. On the basis of his diagnosis, he will recommend surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. He might even give you target therapy drugs to control cancer.