Gastric cancer (gastric carcinoma) is a malignant tumour of the gland-forming cells of the stomach (adenocarcinoma).
Risk factors include long-term infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (with gastritis or inflammation of the stomach), frequent consumption of cured, heavily salted or smoked foods, smoking, increased alcohol consumption, previous stomach surgery, and hereditary predisposition. The number of new cases varies between 10 and 15 cases per 100,000 population per year. Men are more frequently affected than women. The majority of patients are over 65 years of age. Patients with gastric cancer can be cured by timely diagnosis. Early detection includes gastroscopy with fine tissue examination. Unfortunately, two-thirds of patients are not diagnosed until the disease is in an advanced stage. Typical warning symptoms may include upper abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea, black stools (tarry stools), food intolerance and weight loss.
Therapy depends on the local spread, stage and histological type of the disease. Removal of gastric cancer by surgery is the most important component of therapy. In addition, the therapy can be supported by medication both before and after surgery by means of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can be given with one or more agents, and in combination with radiotherapy or without.1,2
1 Wöll E. Cancer in focus. Gastric cancer. © OeGHO – Austrian Society for Hematology & Medical Oncology 2017. http://www.krebsimfokus.at/ueber-krebs/magenkrebs/im-ueberblick.html (last accessed: 02.05.2017).
2 Austrian Cancer Society. Stomach cancer. https://www.krebshilfe.net/information/krebsformen/magenkrebs/ (last accessed: 02.05.2017).