Stomach cancer

What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is cancer that starts in the stomach. The cancer may grow along the stomach wall into the esophagus or small intestine.
What causes stomach cancer?
No exact cause of stomach cancer is known, but several factors have been identified that may increase the chances of developing the disease:
• Your diet may play a significant role in the development and avoidance of stomach cancer. Research suggests that a diet high in processed, smoked, pickled and salted foods and not high in fresh fruits and vegetables may increase the risk.
• Infection with Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes ulcers and inflammations in the stomach
• Family history of stomach cancer
• Smoking, especially heavy smoking

Having one or more risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get stomach cancer.

What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?
Unfortunately, stomach cancer does not usually present any symptoms until it is advanced. This is why we strongly recommend you take early detection tests to screen for stomach cancer, especially if a close relative has been diagnosed with it. Symptoms include:
• Indigestion
• Nausea or vomiting
• Difficulty in swallowing
• Early satiety (feeling full as soon as you start eating)
• Loss of appetite
• Melena (black, "tarry" stools that may indicate gastrointestinal bleeding)
• Vomiting blood
• Weight loss for no known reason

How is stomach cancer diagnosed?
At KHCC, a variety of diagnostic techniques are used to accurately detect and stage stomach cancer including:
• Complete blood count (CBC) test to identify any signs of anemia which can be caused by internal bleeding
• CEA (Carcinoembryonic anitgen) or CA19-9 are two blood tests that may be elevated at diagnosis and help in following the patient’s response to treatment during and after therapy
• Upper endoscopy is accurate in detecting stomach cancer in 95% of the cases. At King Hussein Cancer Center, a specialized gastroenterologist with extensive experience performs upper endoscopies to detect any signs of stomach cancer
• Endoscopic ultrasounds for more precise assessment of the tumor
• CT scan or MRI of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to assess whether the disease has spread to other areas of the body

How is stomach cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel  who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.
Surgery is usually the first form of treatment in patients with stomach cancer. Depending on the stage of the cancer, most patients require some form of surgery to remove the tumor in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
At KHCC, stomach cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of specialists highly experienced in treating stomach cancer and other gastrointestinal tumors .

Supportive Care
The gastrointestinal multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that stomach cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include:
• For patients who have to have temporary or permanent colostomies, a stoma team is on hand to counsel them and show them how to use colostomy pouches.