With nearly 19,000 new sufferers per year, stomach cancer is fifth in men, and in seventh place in women with cancer in Germany. Although the frequency and the mortality rate have declined in recent decades as a whole. But the prognosis could still be improved if the cancer were detected earlier. Malignant tumors of the stomach occur almost exclusively as stomach cancer, which originates from the glandular tissue or the mucous membrane. Above all, people above 70 and more are men than women.
Causes of stomach cancer?
Several factors have been identified that have been shown to increase the risk of stomach cancer or are suspected of being linked:
- A very important role is played by the dietary habits, which are harmful: frequent consumption of spicy and strongly salted as well as strongly catered, smoked or cured food: the nitrates contained in the stomach are converted into nitrites by bacteria, from which carcinogenic nitrosamines are produced. Excessive consumption of nicotine (tobacco smoke contains nitrite) and alcoholic beverages (prolonged gastric inflammation and ulcers and thus a malignant degeneration); especially when too little vitamin C is added at the same time.
- A colonization of the stomach with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (it converts nitrates into nitrites), especially when the diet is strongly fleshy: meat contains iron, which is vital for the germ. A recent American study shows that when the stomach is colonized with Helicobacter pylori, the amount of a particular inflammatory protein (interleukin-1-beta) increases, which in turn increases the risk of normal gastric cells converting to cancer cells. How much interleukin is formed is probably genetic – which would explain why the germs do not lead to cancer in all humans.
- In addition, there are some rare, special stomach diseases which also increase the risk: e.g. certain stomach polyps, Ménétrier’s syndrome (giant folds), or auto-moodastritis – a form of gastric inflammation that causes too little gastric acid, which in turn promotes germination.
- Presumably, genetic factors also play a role – in certain regions and near relatives, stomach cancer is common (although it is not so easy to distinguish the hereditary influence from the dietary habits).
Stomach cancer symptoms and diagnosis
Stomach cancer often remains undetected for a long time. This is due to symptoms typical of this type of cancer, which are often regarded as harmless abdominal pain. For this reason, affected patients often first avoid the doctor’s visit and the diagnosis can only be made accordingly late. The diagnosis is usually in the form of a gastroscopy with tissue removal. Below you will find detailed information on signs and diagnostics of stomach cancer.
How does gastric cancer manifest itself?
It is typical that gastric cancer causes prolonged periods of time either no symptoms or only indeterminate symptoms and thus no clear signs. The first symptoms are often first pushed (over months to years) on a sensitive stomach and thus the diagnosis of stomach cancer is only relatively late.
Signs of stomach cancer
If one or more of the following symptoms persist or recur, a doctor should be contacted sooner:
- New aversion to certain foods, especially meat as one of the signs of stomach cancer
- Hypersensitivity to previously well-tolerated foods as another sign
- Symptoms may also include: heartburn, appetite deficit, nausea, bloating or bloated stomach (especially after eating)
- Weight loss as one of the symptoms
- Pressure or pain in the upper abdomen can also be symptoms
- Derating, fatigue, lack of motivation (also due to gradual loss of blood and a consequent anemia)
- Rare or late symptoms: vomiting possibly with blood (similar to the appearance of coffee substitute), black stool (by stomach bleeding), water accumulation in the abdomen