Stomach Cancer

The Diagnosis | The Treatment | Questions

The Stomach

The stomach is a muscular organ which lies between the lower end of the gullet (oesophagus) and the beginning of the bowel (intestine)
Once food has been swallowed it passes down the gullet and into the stomach. Glands in the wall of the stomach secrete substances which help break down the food so that when it leaves the stomach it is in a semi-solid form
The stomach also produces a substance that helps to absorb vitamin B12. This is important for the development of red blood cells

The Causes

The exact causes of cancer of the stomach are still unknown
Over the past thirty years the number of people with the disease has fallen considerably, especially in Western countries. Although the reason for this is unknown it is thought to be related to changes in our diet particularly the use of refrigeration which means people can now eat more fresh food and less smoked and pickled food
Cancer of the stomach is more common in men, particularly in late middle age
It is also more common in people who have a condition known as pernicious anaemia, which affects the lining of the stomach and results in a lack of vitamin B12
There is no proven link between stomach ulcers and the development of cancer of the stomach

How Common is it in Hong Kong?

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The Symptoms

Persistent indigestion
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
A bloated feeling after eating
Vomiting blood
Blood in the stools (bowel motion) or black stools

If you do have any of the above symptoms you must have them checked by your doctor - but remember - they are common to many conditions other than stomach cancer. Most people with these symptoms will not have cancer.