Cancer of the stomach (gastric or stomach cancer) is an abnormal growth of cells that form tumors in the stomach. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is still stomach cancer, and is called metastatic stomach cancer.
There are different types and stages of stomach cancer based on what kind of cancer cells are found, where the tumor started and where it has spread. Knowing the type and stage of stomach cancer you have helps your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment plan for you. It is important to diagnose and treat stomach cancer as soon as possible. The main goals of treatment are to kill the tumor cells, prevent a localized cancer from spreading, and prevent metastatic cancer from spreading more than it already has.
There are several factors that increase your risk for stomach cancer. These include:
Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) bacteria
History of lymphoma
Age over 50 years
Diet high in smoked, salted, or pickled foods and low in fruits and vegetables
Exposure to certain workplace chemicals
Chronic gastritis, which means that your stomach lining is irritated, raw, and painful
Pernicious anemia is which is a low count of red blood cells caused by a lack of vitamin B12.
History of stomach polyps
Previous stomach surgery
Family history of certain cancers, including stomach cancer
How can I take care of myself when I go home?
How long it takes to get better depends on the type and stage of cancer, your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have.
Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
Your provider may prescribe medicine or other therapy to:
Treat or prevent low blood counts caused by the cancer or its treatment
Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
Relieve gas and bloating
Reduce the acid in your stomach to help relieve indigestion
Help your immune system fight cancer
If you have had surgery, to care for your surgical wound:
Keep your surgical wound clean.
If you are told to change the dressing on your surgical wound, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.
Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines.
Take care of your health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet and try to keep a healthy weight. If you smoke, try to quit. If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink. Learn ways to manage stress. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
You may need other treatments for your cancer after you leave the hospital. Treatments may include:
Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill cancer cells. Different types of chemotherapy may be given in the hospital, outpatient clinic, or at home.
Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation treatment may be done in the hospital or and outpatient clinic.
Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments and routine tests.
Keep appointments for all other testing you may need. Testing may include:
Blood tests to check for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be high if you have cancer.
Chest X-ray: Pictures of the inside of your chest to check for cancer
Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to check other areas where the cancer may have spread
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to take pictures from different angles to check other areas where the cancer may have spread
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows areas where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
Talk with your provider about any questions or concerns you have.
Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:
Bloating or pain in your belly
Black, tarry bowel movements or blood in your bowel movement
Change in bowel habits, such as pain, mucus, diarrhea, constipation, or other intestinal problems
Blood in your vomit or dark brown or black material in your vomit that looks like coffee grounds
Nausea or vomiting
Signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
The area around your wound is more red or painful
The wound area is very warm to touch
You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from your wound area.
You have a fever of 100.5 degrees F (38.1 degrees C) or higher
National Cancer Instituteâ€™s Cancer Information Service 1-800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237) http://www.cancer.gov
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Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-12-19 Last reviewed: 2014-11-21
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Cancer of the Stomach Discharge Information: References
Abeloff, M, Armitage, J, Niederhuber, J, Kastan, M, & McKenna, W. (2014). Abeloff’s clinical oncology [5th ed.]. Retrieved from http://www.mdconsult.com/.