Gastric cancer can be defined as the cancerous growth of cells at the stomach lining. It is also known as stomach cancer, and is extremely difficult to diagnose. The reason being, that most people typically do not tend to display any signs in the earlier stages. Gastric cancer is caused by the cancerous and out of control growth of cells which as a result forms a tumor. This is a slow and gradual process which develops over many years. Risk factors of gastric cancer are stomach polyps, tumors in parts of digestive tract, H. pylori bacterial infections and lymphoma (a unit of blood cancer). Gastric cancer is quite common among people over the age of 50, men, individuals with a family history of the disease, and usually people who belong to the Belarusian, South American, or Asian descent. You are generally more likely to develop gastric cancer if you don’t exercise or store food properly, have a history of alcohol abuse, have too much meat, or eat a lot of processed or salty food. Diagnosis is done through a physical exam and then goes on through a biopsy, an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, and imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans. There is a wide range of treatments available for gastric cancer. This involves radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and immunotherapy.
The treatment of chemotherapy is carried out with the coordination of you and your doctor together. Typically, chemotherapy is given out in the form of pills, IV, or directly injected into the veins. In addition to these forms of treatment, it is also possible to administer chemotherapy in several different ways. Depending on the tumor’s location, chemotherapy is delivered into the tumor directly. In case you undergo a surgery, your doctor will implant certain slow-dissolving disks which tend to release medications over time. Chemotherapy is also delivered in the form of a localized treatment into the part that is affected.
Radiation therapy is the treatment of cancer by the use of radiation beams to eradicate the cancer cells. External beam radiation therapy is the most common form of radiation therapy. This type of therapy is associated with a machine that works by transferring the high-energy beams directly towards the cancerous cells in order to destroy them. The reason why doctors use external beam radiation for all other types of cancer including gastric cancer is because the radiation is targeted at specific sites by the machine. According to a study, nearly half the people with cancer are treated with radiation therapy.
A patient who has a small tumor or is unable to tolerate or afford surgery is eligible for radiation therapy. Someone with locally advanced disease is eligible for surgery.
A patient who is older than 75 years is not eligible for the treatment. Also, pregnant women are not eligible.
There are multiple side effects associated with radiation therapy which include diarrhea, earaches, blistering, dryness, itching peeling, sexual dysfunction, nausea, mouth sores, dry mouth, vomiting, swallowing trouble, swelling, sore throat, urinary difficulties and many more. On the other hand, the side effects associated with chemotherapy are memory and concentration problems, sexual changes, insomnia, lymphedema, infections, anemia, etc.
It is very important that the patient receives proper follow-up care after the treatment. Even if it seems that the cancer has been completely destroyed or removed, the disease has a tendency to return because of the undetected cancerous cells remaining in the body. Recurrence of cancer cells is regularly monitored by the doctor. Your doctor will recommend you to keep investigating your mouth and come for screening exams regularly. He may do a blood test, x-rays or a complete physical examination. Doctors also urge you to strictly stop the usage of tobacco and consumption of alcohol to prevent recurrence of gastric cancer.
Recovery period depends on which stage of cancer the person is in. An average time period on the basis of a study report is between a year to 4 years for full recovery.
The cost of radiation therapy ranges between Rs. 1,50,000 to Rs. 2,75,000. On the other hand, the cost of cumulative therapy will range somewhere between Rs. 20,00,000 to Rs. 22,00,000.
Your chances of recovery are much more favorable in case the cancerous cells are diagnosed in the early stages and the treatment is started as soon as the onset takes place. In case you are diagnosed in the third or last stage of cancer, then even the treatment might not work to a great extent. Even if the treatment is done perfectly and the cancer cells are eradicated, there may be undiagnosed cells which will develop in mere future. Hence, the treatment can never be permanent.