Gastric cancer describes a disease condition where cancer cells develop in the areas lining the stomach. The stomach plays an important role in helping with food digestion, where development of malignant cells will form an abnormal mass in the stomach. This cancer is seen to emerge from the mucus-producing cells that line the stomach. This cancer type is referred to as adenocarcinoma. Gastric cancer has been reported as the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. Early detection of symptoms is crucial to the treatment of this disease condition, some of the early symptoms include difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, constant indigestion, nausea, and heartburn. This cancer affects people over 40 years of ages and reports show that this disease is commonly seen in men.

Causes

The major cause of cancer development in the stomach is unknown. There are known factors that can lead to the development of this disease in individuals. Some of these factors are infection with bacteria; infection with bacteria H. pylori, which causes an ulcer. Recent studies have shown that these bacteria convert certain chemicals in food which then causes mutation in DNA of cells that line the stomach. Some other changes that may be pre-cancerous that could lead to gastric cancer include, chronic atrophic gastritis, autoimmune reaction resulting in the attack on the immune system on the lining of the stomach.

Another probable cause is intestinal metaplasia; this is a systemic replacement of the normal cells lining the stomach with cells that closely resemble those present in the intestine.

Potential risk factors

Below are some factors that can lead to the development of gastric cancer. Some of this risk factors can be changed an example is smoking, while others cannot be altered. These include, age, gender and family history, etc.

Family history: having a close family member with gastric cancer.

Ethnicity: people of a certain ethnic group show higher chances of developing the disease. Example, in the USA, people from Hispanic origin, African-American origin, Asian Pacific Islanders commonly show signs of the disease than people of non-Hispanic origin.

Gender: gastric cancer is seen to develop more in men than in women.

Age: this also poses a major risk factor in the disease condition, there is a sharp rise in the diagnosis of gastric cancer in person above the age of 50 years.

Geography: According to world health organization gastric cancer is more prevalent in southern and Eastern Europe, Japan, China, South and Central America. The disease is less common in areas like south central Asia, north and western Africa and North America Stomach lymphoma.

Prevention

The major cause of gastric or stomach cancer has not been identified and there is no known vaccine used for the effective treatment of the disease condition. Though measures can be taken to reduce the risk of having the disease. Such as eating of fruits and vegetables. People who eat more fruit and vegetables are less likely to develop gastric cancer compared to those who do not. Consumption of food with less salt and smoked food.

Avoiding tobacco use. Smoking can also increase the risk of gastric cancer.

Aspirin use.