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The American Cancer Society projects that more than 27,000 new stomach-related cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2019, affecting the lives of 17,000 men and 10,000 women. Even more distressing, nearly 11,000 people will likely die from the disease.
Also referred to as gastric cancer, stomach-related cancer is characterized as a collection of abnormal cells that form a mass in the stomach, namely the lining of the stomach responsible for mucus production. Stomach-related cancer can metastasize very quickly and can affect other organs, lymph vessels, and lymph nodes. The disease can also affect major organs like the liver and the lungs. In this article, we will take a closer look at the stages of stomach-related cancer and treatments that are available as well as the importance of regular stomach-related cancer screenings.
The extent to which stomach-related cancer has progressed and where it started within the stomach will all play a critical role in the treatment of the disease. For example, stomach-related cancer that has spread to the bones and other organs may be more difficult to treat compared to localized stomach-related cancer. That said, let's take a moment to go over the different stages of stomach-related cancer and the treatments that are available based on how far the disease has spread:
This stage of stomach-related cancer is one where only the inner lining layer of the stomach has been impacted by the disease. Because it has not advanced into deeper stomach layers, this form of stomach-related cancer is often resolved with surgery and rarely requires chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Stage 0 stomach-related cancer surgery generally involves removing either part of the stomach or the entire stomach. In some cases, it may also be necessary to remove lymph nodes. To start such a procedure, the surgeon will use an endoscope that passes through the esophagus to remove tumors from the stomach. It is important to note that this type of treatment is only an option when stomach-related cancer is detected early, which further highlights the need for regular stomach-related cancer screenings.
This form of stomach-related cancer is characterized as either stage 1A or stage 1B. To better understand the difference between these two, let's take a look at them individually:
Stage 1A stomach-related cancer refers to cancer that has impacted the uppermost layer of cells in the mucous membrane layer of the stomach but has not affected the lymph nodes, major organs, or the stomach's primary muscle layer. Similar to stage 0, stage 1A stomach-related cancer can be remediated via surgery, which typically involves removing either part of the stomach or the entire stomach. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are generally not required following surgery for stage 1A stomach-related cancer.
Stage 1B stomach-related cancer refers to cancer that meets the criteria associated with stage 1A and has spread to the lymph nodes. This form of stomach-related cancer can be resolved by surgically removing the entire stomach and following up with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In some cases, other lymph nodes will also have to be removed, which may require another round of chemotherapy.
This form of stomach-related cancer, much like stage 1, is subcategorized as stage IIA or stage IIB:
Stage IIA stomach-related cancer refers to cancer that has permeated the top layers of cells in the mucous membrane layer of the stomach but not the stomach's primary muscle layer. During stage IIA stomach-related cancer, the disease has metastasized to at least 3 of the 6 lymph nodes closest to the stomach. Additional criteria for stage IIA stomach-related cancer includes
Stage IIB refers to stomach-related cancer that meets any of the following criteria:
Stage II stomach-related cancer can be remediated by surgically removing either the impacted part of the stomach or the entire stomach. In addition, the omentum and lymph nodes close to the stomach may have to be removed. Following surgery, most patients will have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments to shrink any remaining cancer cells.
Stage III stomach-related cancer is subcategorized based on symptoms and includes stage IIIA through stage IIIC. In each of these cases, the disease has already traveled pass the subserosa layer of the stomach and has spread to 2 or more lymph nodes. More often than not, patients with stage IIIA through stage IIIC will have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments to help shrink their cancer cells before undergoing surgery. Also, most patients will need chemotherapy or radiation treatments after surgery as well.
Stage IV is by far the worse stage of stomach-related cancer in that it has already spread to other organs. It is also important to note that this form of stomach-related cancer is incurable. However, treatments are available that can help relieve severe symptoms and also keep the stomach-related cancer relatively contained. Some of these treatments may include
It is worth noting that stage IV stomach-related cancer can present nutritional challenges for many people. In most cases, it will be difficult to consume or avoid regurgitating food. As such, patients may need to work with a nutritionist to come up with a meal plan that addresses these problems. In extreme cases, patients may need to have a tube inserted into their small intestine that will allow them to receive the nutrition that they need.
In summation, the survival rate for stomach cancer is quite good, provided the disease is detected early. Regular screenings can detect the disease before it has a chance to spread to other tissues and organs, which can make it either impossible or very difficult to treat. Although chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and surgery are all effective cancer remediation treatments, they may not be as effective once the body has been overtaken by the disease.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author. This content has not been paid for by any advertiser nor does WhipCancer.org recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. WhipCancer.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and information contained on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Please seek the advice of your physician or other professional healthcare provider with any questions you may have.