Stomach cancer

Stomach cancer (stomach carcinoma) is a malignant tumour of the stomach lining.

Overview

Stomach cancer (stomach carcinoma) is a malignant tumour of the stomach lining. Its danger lies in the fact that it often goes undetected for a long time. It causes unexplained weight loss, an aversion to meat and various other symptoms affecting the stomach, e.g. a feeling of pressure. Chronic stomach problems after age 40 should be clarified by a doctor.

Symptoms

Symptoms often remain undetected for a long time and in many cases only appear when the cancer is already at an advanced stage

  • Lack of appetite, recent aversion to meat
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue and reduced performance
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Heartburn, reflux, sometimes foul-smelling
  • Sometimes swallowing disorders
  • Pressure in the upper abdomen
  • Black or reddish stools
  • Build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites, abdominal dropsy)
  • Emergency: vomiting of blood, risk of circulatory shock

Causes and treatment

Causes

External risk factors
  • Diet high in smoked, char-grilled, salted or cured food
  • High-proof alcohol, alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco consumption (swallowing of saliva containing tar and nicotine)
Internal risk factors

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Preferred methods: endoscopic examination of stomach (gastroscopy)
    • Removal of tissue samples to examine under a microscope
  • Blood test (blood count, tumour markers)
  • Imaging tests
    • Ultrasound (sonography)
    • X-ray after injection of contrast medium
    • Laparoscopy (staging laparoscopy)
    • CT scan (computed tomography)
Possible therapies
  • Operation: removal or partial removal of stomach
  • Chemotherapy and radiation before and after surgery
  • Chemotherapy on its own (if operation doesn't make sense)
  • Keep the gastrointestinal passage open (stretch constricted areas)
  • Special food, including vitamin B12 supplements

What can I do myself?

When to see a doctor?

  • Chronic stomach problems after age 40
    • Pressure in the upper abdomen
    • Problems with swallowing
    • Frequent reflux, heartburn
    • Nausea, vomiting
  • Lack of appetite, recent aversion to meat
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Constant fatigue and reduced performance
  • Build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites, abdominal dropsy)
  • Black or reddish stools
  • Vomiting of blood

Further information

Swiss Cancer League (Schweizerische Krebsliga)
www.krebsliga.ch

Selbsthilfe Schweiz (Self-Help Support Switzerland)
www.selbsthilfeschweiz.ch

Synonyms

stomach cancer, stomach carcinoma

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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