This is one of the most common types of cancer
All throughout our lives, we are pushed to be the best versions of ourselves. The goal is usually to be recognised, to be known, loved by all, and to achieve excellence.
Unfortunately, there are times when life throws up unexpected shocks in the form of health problems such as cancer, which has become a sad reality even in blissful Goa. Proving that there can, indeed, be 'trouble in paradise'.
The ‘C’ word is unfortunately used, heard and experienced more times than any of us wish it would be. In the olden days, people did not know what to do once somebody in the family, or someone that they know, was diagnosed with cancer.
How could something like this happen without any warning sign? How can it be only a matter of time until you have to say goodbye?
They say prevention is better than cure and ignorance is bliss. But, how much can one prevent something that they do not know exists? Over the years, cancer has branched into so many types that we, as common people, do not even know about.
Did you know that there are more than 100 types of cancer? Me, neither.
February 4 marks the observance of World Cancer Day. Let us educate ourselves, one type of cancer at a time.
With the people of Goa being among the happiest of souls, known for their merry making and great appetite for red meat, and other questionable eating habits and lifestyle, maybe it is time for a reality check.
Gastric cancer is the fifth most common cancer among males, and the seventh most common cancer among females in India, and is also one of the most fatal.
“The aggressiveness of the disease and the need for improvement in therapeutic options is discerned by the fact the gastric cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death globally,” said Deputy Medical Superintendent & Expert Laparoscopic and GI surgeon at SMRC's VM Salgaocar Hospital, Goa, Dr Santosh Koppal.
According to a prominent medical oncologist in Goa, the incidence of gastrointestinal cancers is about 13% and stomach cancer is one of them.
High alcohol intake, excessive smoking, consumption of canned foods as well as red meat and chronic H pylori infection of the stomach are all blamed for causation of stomach cancer.
What exactly is gastric cancer though?
Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, arises from the inner lining (also known as the mucosa), of the hollow muscular organ in the upper abdomen. This acts as a receptacle of food from the food pipe and is located between the food pipe and the small intestine, explains Consultant (Surgical Oncology), Manipal Hospitals, Goa, Dr Sredharan M.
“The digestion of food begins in the stomach. As per NCRP data, gastric cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting men, and the sixth most common cancer overall,” he adds.
Often undetectable in the early stages, some ways to reduce the risk of developing gastric cancer are quitting smoking, having a healthy diet and avoiding processed foods, reduce smoked foods, meat and salted foods or increased sodium, avoiding alcohol abuse and maintaining a healthy weight.
Most of these cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage. This is because the early symptoms of gastric cancer are vague, such as upper abdomen pain, sense of indigestion, difficulty swallowing, early satiety or black coloured stools.
If these symptoms are persistent, an endoscopy test can diagnose cancer in the early stages, if present.
Smoking, obesity, consumption of processed meat such as sausages, beef jerky and salted fish increase the risk of gastric cancer. Regular intake of fruits and vegetables decreases the risk of developing gastric cancer.
"Once diagnosed, a multi-disciplinary team management with a surgical, medical and radiation oncologist and medical gastroenterologist is shown to give better outcomes,” the doctor further added.
The types of stomach cancers include adenocarcinoma (which is the most common type of gastric cancer), lymphoma, gastrointestinal stroma tumor and neuroendocrine cancer, while the main causes of stomach cancer are said to be H. pylori bacterial infections, tumors, stomach polyps and stomach reflex.
It goes without saying that, most times, Google is a morbid doctor that will always tell you that you’re going to die the moment you google your symptoms! But, the reality is not always something to worry about.
On the contrary, signs of stomach cancer may be misleading and mistaken for a normal case of heartburn, indigestion or changes in appetite.
Some of the common signs of stomach cancer that a patient could experience are nausea, change in appetite, swelling of the abdomen, discomfort in the abdomen, unintentional weight loss and anaemia, to name a few.
There is an old saying which goes, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Rightly so, life has given us no promise of being fair, and cancer can befall anybody in blindside. Homes broken, lives lost -- it takes no accountability.
Although it is easier said than done, let us today take the initiative of living healthier and safer, because the last time I checked on google, it said we get just one shot at life.