What is Gastric Cancer?
The stomach is a vital organ in our digestive tract. It functions as a reservoir to temporarily hold our meals and at the same time aids in digestion of our food.
Gastric cancer occurs when the cells in the stomach wall undergoes uncontrolled division to produce a malignant tumour.
Stomach cancer is the 7th most common cancer in men and the 9th most common cancer in women in Singapore.
Each year, Stomach cancer takes more than 300 lives in Singapore.
Risk Factors for Gastric Cancer
- Infection with Helicobacter Pylori bacteria .
- Long term stomach inflammation
- Family history of gastric cancer
- Dietary factors: diet high in salt, smoked and preserved foods and diet low in fruits and vegetables
As with most cancer, early stomach cancers tend to be silent.
Gastric Cancer Symptoms
- Upper abdominal pain
- Bloatedness or indigestion after meals
- Loss of appetite and loss of weight
- Persistent nausea and vomiting
- Persistent heartburn symptoms
- Black tarry stools
Gastric Cancer Screening
Recently, There has been some exciting developments in the field of gastric cancer screening coming from Singapore called Gastroclear.
Gastroclear is a blood test that actually detects abnormal levels of microRNA released from Gastric cancer cells.
It has been said to be able to detect up to 87% of all gastric cancer and is being evaluated currently to be rolled out for population wide screening in the primary care scene.
Gastric Cancer Prevention
Many illnesses and diseases can be treated with lifestyle changes.
- Stop smoking
- Avoid processed foo
- Reduce salt intake
- Increase the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables in your meals
- Maintaining a healthy weight by staying physically active
If your doctor suspect that you may be suffering from gastric cancer, diagnostic testings might be recommended :
- gastric endoscopy
- barium meal X-rays.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle to keep gastric cancer away from you.
- Take note of the symptoms and do seek medical consultation when you develop symptoms suggestive of gastric cancer.
- The last thing you want to do is to ignore your symptoms. Early detection ensures early diagnosis, and often that leads to better outcome.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)