What is Stomach cancer ?
Stomach cancer (or gastric cancer) begins with the formation of cancer cells in the inner lining of the stomach. These cells gradually grow into a tumor, usually over many years. Typically, stomach cancer starts in the mucosa (a lubricating membrane lining an internal surface or an organ) and slowly grows out into the other layers.
What are the types of Stomach cancer ?
More than 95% of stomach cancers fall under the type of Adenocarcinomas that develop in the cells of the stomach lining. The less common types of stomach cancers include lymphoma of the stomach, which develops in the lymphatic tissue (tissue that drains away fluids and helps fight infection), and gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs), which develop in the muscle or connective tissue of the stomach wall.
What should I look for ?
Stomach cancer rarely presents symptoms in the early stages. However, one can look for the following signs that may lead to stomach cancer.
- Unintended weight loss
- No desire to eat or lack of appetite
- Pain in the area of the stomach (abdominal pain)
- Abdominal discomfort, often above the navel
- Feeling of heaviness just below the chest bone after a small meal
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Feeling to vomit (Nausea)
- Vomiting, with or without blood
- Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
While the above symptoms can also be due to other indications, if the symptoms persist one should consult a doctor.
What is the diagnosis ?
The symptoms and thorough physical examination gives your physician information about your general health. In particular, your physician will feel your abdomen for any abnormal changes. If your doctor suspects stomach cancer, upper endoscopy is performed. If any growth is seen, a biopsy of the growth is sought for confirmation. There may be many other tests a doctor might seek to assess the stage and size of the growth (CECT scan abdomen & pelvis).
How is it treated ?
The main treatment option for stomach cancer is surgery. Additional treatment are chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy. Depending on the stage, doctors might choose one or more combinations of the treatment options.
Is Robotic Surgery an option and why ?
Robotic Surgery is more useful in stomach cancer surgery especially for lymph node retrieval for staging and completion of anastomosis in minimal invasive fashion.