Stomach cancer is the 7th most frequent cancer in males and 9th most frequent cancer in females in Singapore according to Singapore’s cancer registry of 2015.
Stomach cancer is the cancer of the cells of the inner lining of the stomach. The medically scientific term is called gastric adenocarcinoma. It is quite an aggressive cancer. This is further worsened by the fact that stomach cancer often does not have any symptoms in the early stages. By the time the patient feels unwell, the cancer is usually quite advanced.
Infection with bacteria called Helicobactor pylori
Family history of stomach cancer
Chronic inflammation of the stomach
Salty and smoked food
Lack of intake of fruits and vegetables
Lack of intake of Vitamin C
Pernicious Anaemia – this is an auto-immune disease where the body develops antibodies which attack parts of the stomach.
Gastric cancer may not present with any symptoms in the early stages. Most patients experience non-specific symptoms such as indigestion, acid reflux or heartburn lasting more than 2 weeks, loss of appetite or weight and difficulty in swallowing. Other symptoms include:
Feeling bloated or full after eating small amounts of food
Persistent stomach pain
Weakness or feeling easily tired
Anaemia (a drop in your haemoglobin level)
Passing of black-colored stools
Vomiting of blood
The ideal test is to perform a gastroscopy (a type of endoscopy). This allows the doctor to visualize the cancer, accurately locate the part of the stomach where the cancer is, and obtain tissue biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
Following the diagnosis of the cancer, the doctor may organize scans like CT scan to check if the cancer has spread. If the tumour is large, the doctor may sometimes recommend a diagnostic laparoscopy, a minor surgery where he inserts a telescope-like instrument (called a laparoscope) into your abdomen to visualize the tumour, and to determine if a course of chemotherapy is needed before the surgery to shrink the tumour.
Treatment depends on the location and stage of the disease as well as the patient’s general condition. Surgical treatment ranges from endoscopic resection, laparoscopic radical resection to open radical resection (subtotal or total gastrectomy). Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be necessary as additional treatment.
Gastrectomy is an operation to remove part (partial gastrectomy) or all (total gastrectomy) of the stomach. The decision on which operation to perform depends on the location of the cancer and the size of the tumour also. This surgery can be performed by the traditional open technique or the laparoscopic or keyhole technique.
In a total gastrectomy, the entire stomach is removed and the oesophagus is attached to the small intestine. The surrounding lymph nodes are removed as well in cancer surgery.
In selected cases, the operation can be performed with small “keyhole” incisions in the abdomen. The advantages of a laparoscopic approach are:
Both the laparoscopic operation and the open operation are performed under General Anaesthesia. A thin tube may be inserted through the nose into the stomach during the operation. This nasogastric tube will usually be kept in place for a few days after the operation. The patient will also have a urinary catheter.
Initially, the patient will not be allowed to eat or drink. When bowel sounds return, the diet will gradually be advanced from liquids to soft foods.
A healthy lifestyle also helps to reduce the risk of getting stomach cancer:
The answer is yes. Some of these tumours are:
Both of the tumours listed above are less aggressive than stomach cancer.
We can give you the peace of mind.