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Stomach Cancer

  • What is Stomach Cancer?

    Stomach cancer (also called gastric cancer) is an abnormal growth of tissue in the stomach. The cancer usually starts in the cells lining the inside of the stomach. It can form a tumour or ulcer (painful sore) within the stomach or spread through the wall of the stomach.

  • People with stomach cancer often have an infection with helicobacter pylori (a bacterium) but not everyone who has this infection will develop stomach cancer. Stomach cancer is more common in East Asian than Western countries.

    You may be at risk if you:

    • Are older than 50 years
    • Eat a lot of smoked foods, salted fish, cured meat and pickled foods. Eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamins A and C lowers the risk of stomach cancer
    • Have a family member who has had stomach cancer
    • Have pernicious anaemia (low red blood cells), which prevents you from absorbing enough vitamin B12
    • Have chronic gastritis, a long-term stomach inflammation
    • Smoke tobacco
  • Early stomach cancer often does not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, symptoms may include:

    • Chronic abdominal pain
    • Loss of appetite
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Other health problems can cause stomach pain, such as dyspepsia (indigestion), acid reflux or gastritis. But less common symptoms of stomach cancer include:
      1. Anaemia (lack of red blood cells in blood)
      2. Passing black stools, which is a sign of bleeding
      3. Vomiting
  • Treatment for stomach cancer includes:

    • Surgery to remove part or all of the stomach, or to reduce complications from the tumour if it is at a late stage
    • Chemotherapy, sometimes given with radiation therapy after surgery or to reduce symptoms if you cannot have surgery
    • Radiation therapy (high-energy x-ray), sometimes given with chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery
    • Targeted therapy to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells
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