Esophageal And Stomach Cancer

What Is Esophageal & Stomach Cancer?

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What is Esophageal Cancer?

The esophagus is a long, muscular tube connecting the trachea and the stomach, allowing food to pass down from the mouth to the stomach for digestion. The esophagus has muscles at either end which open and close to allow food to pass from the throat into the esophagus and on into the stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus, this muscle also serves to prevent stomach acids from leaking into the esophagus. If this muscle fails to function properly and acid does escape into the esophagus, it causes reflux, more commonly called heartburn. Chronic reflux puts the tissues at the bottom of the esophagus at a much higher risk of developing esophageal cancer, a condition called Barrett’s esophagus.

Esophageal cancer takes two forms: adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma makes up slightly more than 50% of cases, and it occurs in the glands at the bottom of the esophagus. Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in the top layer of the esophageal lining, and it may develop anywhere in the esophagus.

While esophageal cancer is fairly uncommon (accounting for only 1% of cancer cases in the US), it’s one of the more serious forms of cancer. The aggregate five-year survival rate for survival cancer is just 18%, although part of that is because esophageal cancer is often not diagnosed until it’s progressed and spread to other parts of the body. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, it’s possible to eliminate esophageal cancer.

Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors

Scientists don’t understand the exact causes of esophageal cancer, but there are a number of factors that can increase risk:

  • Men are three times as likely to develop esophageal cancer as women
  • Tobacco use
  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Diets high in red meat and fat but low in fruits and vegetables
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Acid reflux disease

Stomach Cancer

After food passes through the esophagus, it enters the stomach, where it’s digested. Cancers of the stomach can take a variety of different forms, and they may have very different effects depending on what part of the stomach they originate in. It’s important to note that in medicine, the term “stomach” refers only to the actual organ. While some people may say they have a “stomach ache,” a doctor might instead call this abdominal pain, as the pain may originate in the appendix, intestine, colon, liver, or the stomach itself.

Adenocarcinoma is by far the most common form of stomach cancer, accounting for up to 95% of cases. This cancer begins in the innermost lining of the stomach, a layer called the mucosa. Other forms of stomach cancer include lymphoma, which develops in the stomach wall, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, which also start in the stomach wall, or carcinoid tumors, which start in the cells of the stomach that make hormones. Stomach cancer affects some 28,000 people each year, and 60% of cases are diagnosed in patients over 65 years old.

Stomach Cancer Risk Factors

A number of factors can increase a patient’s risk of developing stomach cancer, including:

  • Diet high in red meats and fats while low in fruits and vegetables
  • Tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Stomach surgery
  • Having blood type A
  • A history of polyps in the stomach
  • Exposure to dusts or fumes in the workplace or environment
  • Obesity
  • Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and African-Americans have a higher risk

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Fighting cancer of any kind is scary – but no matter what you’re up against, you’re never fighting alone. At Orange County CyberKnife, we strive to provide comprehensive, compassionate cancer care to our patients, and the state-of-the-art CyberKnife system makes cancer treatment more effective and less disruptive than ever. If you’d like to find out more about the services we offer or schedule an appointment for a consultation or second opinion, we would be thrilled to hear from you. Call us today at 714.962.7100 for more information about our treatment center and services, or reach out to us at our contact page to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you beat cancer and reclaim a healthy, happy lifestyle – no matter what you’re fighting or what the odds.

Esophageal And Stomach Cancer: Types & Stages

The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) developed the TNM staging system for evaluating the extent and spread of stomach cancer. The staging process is a basis for selecting treatment options and helping doctors communicate potential outcomes (prognosis). The TNM system considers three important factors:

  • T ­- Describes the size and growth of the primary stomach tumor.
  • N- ­Provides information about stomach cancer found in regional lymph nodes.
  • M­- Indicates whether the cancer has metastasized, or spread to other areas.

Each of these categories are rated on a numbered scale, the higher the number indicates increased severity. These categories are then grouped into stomach cancer stages from 0­IV.

Esophageal And Stomach Cancer: Detection & Treatment Options

In cancer care, different types of doctors often work together to create a patient’s overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. For stomach cancer, the team of doctors may include a gastroenterologist, who is a doctor who specializes in the gastrointestinal tract including the stomach and intestines, a surgeon, a medical oncologist, and a radiation oncologist. Cancer care teams also include a variety of other health care professionals, including physician assistants, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dietitians, and others.

Stomach cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. Descriptions of these common treatment options for stomach cancer are listed below. Often, a combination of these treatments is used. It can be difficult to cure stomach cancer because it is often not detected until it is at an advanced stage.

Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and the patient’s preferences and overall health. Your care plan may also include treatment for symptoms and side effects, an important part of cancer care. Take time to learn about all of your treatment options and be sure to ask questions about things that are unclear. Also, talk about the goals of each treatment with your doctor and what you can expect while receiving the treatment.

Esophageal And Stomach Cancer: FAQs

Answer :

Stomach cancer is when cancer cells begin growing in the stomach. Because stomach cancer is rare, doctors do not do routine screening in the United States. Stomach cancer is often diagnosed in its later stages because there are often no symptoms early in the disease. This makes it harder to cure. Stomach cancer is becoming rare as methods of preparing and preserving food continue to improve. Stomach ulcers, which are very common, are not the same as stomach cancer.

Answer :

It is found mostly in people between their late 60s and 80s. Stomach cancer is more common in men than in women. The disease is more common in Hispanic Americans and African­Americans than in non­Hispanic whites. Stomach cancer is also more common in some parts of the world, such as Japan, China, parts of Southern and Eastern Europe, and South and Central America.

Answer :

Certain factors may make one person more likely to get stomach cancer than another person. These are called risk factors. But just because a person has one or more risk factors does not mean that person will get stomach cancer. In fact, a person can have all of the risk factors and not get the disease. Or, a person can have no known risk factors and still get stomach cancer:

  • Diet.People who eat a lot of foods that are smoked or not properly refrigerated, fish and meats that are very salty, high­starch and low­fiber foods, and vegetables that are pickled are at increased risk of getting stomach cancer.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use.People who use tobacco and alcohol heavily (a pack or more of cigarettes a day and two or more alcoholic drinks a day) are at a higher risk for getting stomach cancer.
  • Weight.Obesity is linked to many cancers, including stomach cancer
  • Stomach polyps.The risk for stomach cancer is higher in a person who has had small growths called polyps in the stomach.
  • Stomach surgery.Those who have already had surgery to remove part of their stomach for stomach ulcers or stomach cancer may be at greater risk for either a new or recurring stomach cancer in the remaining stomach.
  • Helicobacter pylori infection.These bacteria often cause stomach ulcers, which can damage and shrink the stomach’s lining. This leads to a higher risk of stomach cancer.
  • Pernicious anemia.This type of anemia is caused by the body’s inability to absorb vitamin B12. People with pernicious anemia have an increased risk of developing stomach cancer
  • Menetrier disease.This is a disease in which the stomach lining is overgrown and there is not enough stomach acid. For reasons not clear to doctors, people with Menetrier disease are at a slightly increased risk of developing stomach cancer.
  • Gender.Stomach cancer is more common in men than in women.
  • Age.After the age of 50, there is increased risk for stomach cancer.
  • Family history.People who have first­degree relatives (mother, father, sister, brother) who have had stomach cancer are more likely to get it.
  • Type A blood.People with type A blood are at a slightly higher risk of getting stomach cancer. Researchers do not yet know why this is true.
Answer :

People with early stomach cancer, meaning it is small and has not spread, do not usually have symptoms or signs of the cancer. But, as the cancer grows, it can cause these symptoms:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or vague pain just above the belly button area
  • Indigestion and vomiting
  • Loss of or decrease in appetite
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Blood in the vomit or stool
  • A feeling of fullness after small meals

A person should see the doctor if they are having any of these symptoms. The symptoms are most often a sign of something other than stomach cancer, but it is important to make sure.

Answer :

To find out the cause of any of the signs or symptoms, a doctor does a careful physical exam and asks about the personal and family medical history. The doctor may also order these tests to make a diagnosis:

  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Upper endoscopy (The doctor may take a biopsy during this test.)
  • Biopsy
  • Upper GI series
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
Answer :

Treatment depends on the size and spread of the cancer. A person with stomach cancer may have one or more of these treatments:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
Answer :

Many people with cancer get a second opinion from another doctor. There are many reasons to get a second opinion. Here are some of those reasons:

  • Not feeling comfortable with the treatment decision
  • Being diagnosed with a rare type of cancer
  • Having several options for how to treat the cancer
  • Having the diagnosis made by a doctor who is not a cancer expert
Answer :

There are many ways to get a second opinion:

  • Ask a primary care doctor.Your doctor may be able to suggest a specialist. This may be a surgeon, medical oncologist, or radiation oncologist. Sometimes these doctors work together at cancer centers or hospitals. Never be afraid to ask for a second opinion.
  • Call the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service.The number is 800­4­CANCER (800­422­6237). They have information about treatment facilities. These include cancer centers and other programs supported by the National Cancer Institute.
  • Seek other options.Check with a local medical society, a nearby hospital or medical school, or support group to get names of doctors who can give you a second opinion. Or ask other people who’ve had cancer for their recommendations.
Answer :

There are two kinds of surgeries to remove stomach cancer. One kind removes only the portion of the stomach that contains cancer. This is called a partial gastrectomy. The other removes the whole stomach, and is called total gastrectomy.Which type a person gets, or if they get surgery at all, depends on the stage and type of stomach cancer they have.

Answer :

A person who has surgery for stomach cancer will likely meet with a registered dietitian to discuss what they can and cannot eat during and after treatment.

After a partial gastrectomy,where only part of the stomach is removed, most people will be able to eat much the same way they did before. Although they may have to make some changes to the way they eat.

A person who has had a total gastrectomy has had their whole stomach removed. They still swallow and eat in the same way because their surgeon connects the esophagus to the small intestine. The surgeon may place a small feeding tube, called a jejunostomy (J­tube), into the small intestine at the time of surgery. Nutrition is given through this tube for a while after surgery during recovery. Diet changes are also needed after total gastrectomy. Most people who have their stomachs removed find that they prefer to eat small meals more often, rather than large meals three times a day.

Answer :

Cancer research should give you hope. Doctors and researchers around the world are learning more about what causes stomach cancer, and are looking for ways to prevent it. They are also finding better ways to detect and treat this disease.