Gastric Cancer

Gastric Cancer: Symptoms and Causes

Gastric cancer, commonly known as stomach cancer, develops in the lining of the stomach and can vary in type and severity. This article delves into the various types of gastric cancer, explores potential causes and risk factors, and discusses symptoms that may indicate the presence of the disease.

Understanding Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer, also widely known as stomach cancer, develops in the stomach, which is located in the upper abdomen, extending from the esophagus to the intestines. This type of cancer varies depending on the affected cells, including:

Except for adenocarcinoma, all other types are rare, constituting only about 5% of all stomach cancer cases.

Causes of Gastric Cancer

The exact causes of gastric cancer are not fully understood, but researchers have identified several risk factors. These include excessive intake of preserved, smoked, and highly spiced foods, as well as foods high in salt and nitrates. Alcohol and tobacco use also increase the risk, alongside medical conditions like atrophic gastritis and pernicious anemia. A significant link exists between the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and certain forms of stomach cancer, with this organism officially recognized as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. Research also suggests that individuals with blood type A might be slightly more susceptible to developing gastric cancer.

Consuming foods rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, such as oranges, lemons, peaches, pumpkins, broccoli, and leafy greens, may help reduce the risk of developing this disease.

Symptoms of Gastric Cancer

Early stages of gastric cancer rarely show clear symptoms, often mirroring those of gastritis. Common signs include stomach discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, frequent belching, loss of appetite (particularly towards meat), irregular bowel movements, and bloating after meals. As the cancer progresses, more severe symptoms such as a taste of decay in the mouth and blood in the stool may appear, leading to rapid weight loss and anemia.

Early detection is crucial as many patients delay seeking help until pain becomes evident, often indicating advanced disease.

Diagnosing Gastric Cancer

There are no formalized screening programs for gastric cancer in Ontario, however, worrisome symptoms can prompt gastroscopy leading to diagnosis.  Gastroscopy allows doctors to inspect the stomach lining and take biopsy samples for a closer examination.

Treatment of Gastric Cancer

Treatment options for gastric cancer depend on various factors including the tumor’s size, location, and stage, as well as the patient’s overall health. They generally involve a combination of chemotherapy and surgery.


Seek Expert Care at Our Clinic

If you are experiencing symptoms or have concerns about gastric cancer, we encourage you to consult your doctor for a referral to our clinic. As a specialized department at North York General Hospital, we are equipped to offer comprehensive care and advanced treatments for gastric cancer, providing you with the best possible outcomes.