Stomach cancer

Stomach cancer (stomach carcinoma) is a malignant tumour of the stomach lining.

Overview

Stomach cancer (stomach carcinoma) is a malignant tumour of the stomach lining. Its danger lies in the fact that it often goes undetected for a long time. It causes unexplained weight loss, an aversion to meat and various other symptoms affecting the stomach, e.g. a feeling of pressure. Chronic stomach problems after age 40 should be clarified by a doctor.

Symptoms

Symptoms often remain undetected for a long time and in many cases only appear when the cancer is already at an advanced stage

  • Lack of appetite, recent aversion to meat
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue and reduced performance
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Heartburn, reflux, sometimes foul-smelling
  • Sometimes swallowing disorders
  • Pressure in the upper abdomen
  • Black or reddish stools
  • Build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites, abdominal dropsy)
  • Emergency: vomiting of blood, risk of circulatory shock

Causes and treatment

Causes

External risk factors
  • Diet high in smoked, char-grilled, salted or cured food
  • High-proof alcohol, alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco consumption (swallowing of saliva containing tar and nicotine)
Internal risk factors

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Preferred methods: endoscopic examination of stomach (gastroscopy)
    • Removal of tissue samples to examine under a microscope
  • Blood test (blood count, tumour markers)
  • Imaging tests
    • Ultrasound (sonography)
    • X-ray after injection of contrast medium
    • Laparoscopy (staging laparoscopy)
    • CT scan (computed tomography)
Possible therapies
  • Operation: removal or partial removal of stomach
  • Chemotherapy and radiation before and after surgery
  • Chemotherapy on its own (if operation doesn't make sense)
  • Keep the gastrointestinal passage open (stretch constricted areas)
  • Special food, including vitamin B12 supplements

What can I do myself?

When to see a doctor?

  • Chronic stomach problems after age 40
    • Pressure in the upper abdomen
    • Problems with swallowing
    • Frequent reflux, heartburn
    • Nausea, vomiting
  • Lack of appetite, recent aversion to meat
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Constant fatigue and reduced performance
  • Build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites, abdominal dropsy)
  • Black or reddish stools
  • Vomiting of blood

Further information

Swiss Cancer League (Schweizerische Krebsliga)
www.krebsliga.ch

Selbsthilfe Schweiz (Self-Help Support Switzerland)
www.selbsthilfeschweiz.ch

Synonyms

stomach cancer, stomach carcinoma

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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