This serious disease rarely causes symptoms until it is well advanced and the chances of successful surgery are small. It is a common disease, and is among the most frequent causes of cancer deaths in men. Ninety-five percent of cases occur in persons past 45 years of age. There may be a family history of gastric cancer. Pernicious Anemia, Achlorhydria (no acid secretion in the stomach) and Chronic Gastritis are believed to be precursors. Constitutional factors also seem to play a part, for there is some association between stomach cancers and persons with blood group A.
It is extremely common in Japan, where it is responsible for nearly half of all cancer deaths. However when a Japanese person moves to the United States, the rate of occurrence soon approximates that of the local population. The prevalence is high in North Wales, but relatively lower in other areas of the United Kingdom. Although it is believed that some gastric ulcers may turn into cancer, it seems more probable that they arise primarily as cancers, giving the outward appearance of an ulcer. As such any ulcer that does not heal within a few weeks of intensive therapy should be reappraised and possibly receive surgical attention.
Invariably there are no early symptoms for this disease. In advanced stages there is weight loss, anemia, an abdominal mass and progressive gastric malfunction. The patient will also experience a loss of appetite, fullness after food and many symptoms indistinguishable from an ulcer may appear. There may also be pain and dyspepsia.
When dyspepsia and abdominal symptoms suddenly appear and persist for more than three weeks in any adult over the age of 45 years, immediate medical attention is mandatory. It could be stomach cancer, and the sooner medical attention is obtained, the better is the outlook. Diagnosis is made by endoscopy or with the use of radiological examination.
Stomach Cancer Treatment
Surgical resection is the only possibility of a cure, and the cure rate is not high. The cancers often grow rapidly, even in a period of weeks, and cells spread to outlying organs. Only about twenty-five percent of patients are suitable for major surgery, and only about fifteen to twenty percent of these patients will survive for five years. However, the prognosis (future outlook) for patients with very superficial gastric carcinomas is much better.
Today, endoscopic examination is quick, simple, readily available and highly accurate. Never neglect symptoms of the gastrointestinal system.