Stages of stomach cancer and treatment

Welcome to our blog where Dr. Nivedita Pandey, a best gastroenterologist in Delhi, will share invaluable insights into stomach cancer. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the intricacies of stomach cancer, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. 

Stomach cancer stages are measurements that physicians often use to describe the extent to which a patient’s cancer has grown and spread to other tissues or organs. Staging provides consistent terminology that can be useful to an entire team of medical professionals.

To assign an appropriate stage to your cancer, a physician will typically order diagnostic tests, such as physical examinations, imaging scans, blood analyses and biopsies, and then thoroughly analyze the results. When assessing cancer, one of the following stomach cancer stages will generally be assigned:

Stages of stomach cancer

Stage 0: Abnormal cells have been identified in the stomach’s inner layer but nowhere else.

Stage 1: A tumour has spread into the second layer of the stomach (submucosa), and malignant cells have been found in up to six lymph nodes. This stage may also be assigned if cancer has spread to the muscular layer of the stomach (subserosa) but has not spread to any lymph nodes or nearby organs.

Stage 2: Malignant cells have spread only to the submucosa and can be found in seven to 15 lymph nodes, a tumour has invaded the subserosa and spread to up to six lymph nodes, or a tumour has affected the outer layer of the stomach (serosa), but has not spread to lymph nodes or nearby organs.

Stage 3: Cancer has spread to the subserosa and invaded up to 15 lymph nodes, or malignant cells have spread to other nearby organs but not area lymph nodes or organs further away from the stomach.

Stage 4: A tumour has spread to more than 15 lymph nodes, malignant cells have spread to nearby organs, and at least one lymph node or cancer has metastasized to distant organs.

Once the condition has been staged at our Centre, a collaborative tumour board comprised of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and other cancer experts will formulate an individualized treatment plan for the patient and closely monitor their progress. We are well-equipped to handle even the most advanced stages of Stomach cancer and offer a comprehensive array of patient care programs, including diagnostic testing, cancer treatment and supportive care, all in one convenient location.

What are the different types of stomach cancer?

Stages of stomach cancer and treatment

Stomach cancer can originate in any of the stomach’s five layers, but the most common type of stomach cancer develops in the mucosa. This type of stomach cancer, called adenocarcinoma, is the most prevalent, making up 90–95% of all cases of stomach cancer. Several other types comprise the remaining 5 to 10% of stomach cancers.

Adenocarcinoma: begins in the mucosa and then spreads outwards into the other four layers.

Lymphoma:  originates in the immune system tissues located in the wall of the stomach.

Carcinoid tumours:develop in the hormone-creating cells of the stomach and typically do not spread.

Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in the skin-like cells that comprise the stomach lining.

Small cell carcinoma: a type of neuroendocrine tumour that often develops in conjunction with other tumour types and is extremely rare

Leiomyosarcoma: begins in the stomach’s smooth muscle cells.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST): begin in interstitial cells of Cajal, which are cells in the wall of the stomach.

What are the early warning signs of stomach cancer?

Stages of stomach cancer and treatment

First signs of stomach cancer can be difficult to detect. Stomach cancer signs may be heartburn, indigestion, changes in appetite, nausea and vomiting. 

Common signs of stomach cancer include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting with or without Blood
  • Change in appetite
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • A vague discomfort above the navel in the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Fullness in the upper abdomen below the chestbone after eating a small amount
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Anaemia (low haemoglobin)

Causes of stomach cancer

Researchers are continually trying to determine what causes stomach cancer. While several risk factors have been identified, what remains unclear is what exactly causes cells in the stomach lining to begin dividing and multiplying. Research has indicated a strong correlation between eating foods preserved by smoking, pickling or salting and developing stomach cancer. As the use of refrigeration and other preserving methods has increased around the world, the incidence of stomach cancer has declined.

While precise causes have yet to be identified, several changes in the stomach lining could indicate a pre-cancerous condition. These changes include:

Atrophic gastritis: Normal glands in the stomach are either diminished or absent. This condition can sometimes be caused by H. pylori infection or by an autoimmune condition in which a person’s immune system begins to attack cells in the stomach lining.

Intestinal metaplasia: The normal cells that The cells that normally line the intestine replace the cells that line the stomach. Researchers think this condition may also be connected to H. pylori infection, but the impetus behind the change remains unclear.

DNA changes: Some genes trigger cell division and growth, while others trigger cells to die at the right time to keep the number of cells balanced. Tumours sometimes form when one or the other of these genes malfunctions.

Does stomach cancer affect men and women differently?

Adults over the age of 55 should be on the lookout for any signs or symptoms of stomach cancer. It is most common in those who are 60 or older. Men are more susceptible to stomach cancer than women, despite the importance of being aware of signs. The disease is expected to affect 16,980 women and 10,620 men in 2020. Women have a risk of developing stomach cancer 1 in 154 in their lifetime, but men have 1 in 95. Men and women show similar signs of stomach carcinoma.

Some other stomach cancer risk factors include:

Diets high in salt or consisting of foods preserved by drying, smoking or pickling

  1. Obesity.
  2. Previous surgery
  3. Certain medical conditions, including pernicious anaemia, stomach polyps, achlorhydria and long-term stomach inflammation
  4. Genetic disorders such as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (NHPCC or Lynch syndrome) and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  5. Smoking
  6. Excess alcohol consumption
  7. Occupational or environmental exposures to dust and fumes
  8. Furthermore, one of the most significant stomach cancer risk factors is the presence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in the stomach. H. pylori causes inflammation of the stomach.
  9.  Ulcers, and the risk of non-cardia gastric cancer is nearly six times higher for H. pylori-infected people than for uninfected people. However, H. pylori can be tested for and treated with antibiotics.

What kind of doctor treats stomach cancer?

There are specialists who care for those with stomach cancer.

Gastroenterologist is a specialist in the stomach and intestines.

A surgical oncologist is a doctor that removes cancerous tumours or cancerous cells through surgery.

A medical oncologist is a doctor that treats cancer using oral or systemic medications

Radiation oncologist is a specialist in radiation therapy for cancer treatment.

A pathologist is a physician who performs laboratory tests and evaluates tissues, cells and organs to diagnose diseases.

Radiologist: A doctor who uses imaging to diagnose diseases

You may be able to meet with one or more of these specialists depending on your current condition and the stage you’re at in your treatment.

Depending on your condition and where you are in your treatment, you may meet with any one of these specialists at a given time.