Cancer is a dreaded disease. Stomach cancer is even more menacing for certain reasons. This makes it imperative that we understand why it is so dangerous.
The stomach is the organ that stores our food and helps in its further digestion in the intestine. Since it is a highly expandable structure to accommodate food, even if the cancer is very large, symptoms are usually experienced by the patient only when the disease is very advanced.
Furthermore, the symptoms of stomach cancer can be very vague and sometimes misleading. The feeling of acidity and abdominal pain is very common and taken lightly until the disease has progressed substantially. Sometimes the symptom may be anaemia (low haemoglobin). An upper GI endoscopy is usually required to confirm the diagnosis. Weight loss and decreased appetite are also common symptoms that are usually ignored.
Another reason for concern, is that stomach cancers usually have an aggressive tumour biology which means that they are inherently fast-growing and spread to other parts of the body quickly. This doesn’t give much time to spare to initiate treatment. Also, the bad biology means that the chances of the tumour recurring after treatment are high.
The treatment options are also rather complicated, such as chemotherapy, supra-major surgery, radiation therapy, and sometimes targeted therapy.
The important thing is to be aware of the symptoms early on and to get appropriate tests to rule out or confirm this disease. Check-ups should also be done if there is someone else in the family with cancer. Smoking and alcohol intake should be avoided. Smoked food is also harmful.
In conclusion, prevention is better than cure, more so in stomach cancer. Awareness and early detection is the key to beat this dangerous cancer.