Patient Guide

Stomach Cancer

What is Stomach Cancer?

Stomach is one of the important parts of the upper digestive tract.  Stomach cancer which is also known as gastric cancer is the cancer arising from the lining of the stomach.

Stomach Cancer in Singapore

Cancer of the stomach is the seventh most common cancer in men and the ninth most common cancer in women in Singapore. Stomach cancer ranked 4th for cancer deaths of men and 5th for cancer deaths of women in Singapore. (1)

What are the Risk Factors?

  • Helicobacter pylori infection (a type of bacteria that can live in the digestive tract)
  • Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen based chemicals that are added to certain foods such as ham and bacon, hot dogs and deli meats.
  • Red meats and salted, pickled or smoked foods
  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  • Males have double the rate of stomach cancer compared to women
  • Stomach polyps
  • Previous stomach surgery
  • Family History
  • Obesity
  • Pernicious anaemia (2)

What are the Presenting Symptoms?

  • Weight loss
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Sense of fullness / discomfort after a small meal
  • Heart burn or indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dysphagia
  • Vomiting
  • Black stool
  • Early satiety
  • Anaemia

These symptoms may or may not be caused by the stomach cancer however if you have these symptoms it is advisable to see your doctor to rule out stomach cancer.

How is it Diagnosed?

  • Upper gastrointestinal Endoscopy
    Examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract including esophagus, stomach and duodenum using a long, thin flexible tube with camera and light to view the lining as well as to take the biopsy to detect cancer.
  • Computed tomography
    A special X-ray imaging technology to detect the spread of the cancer in the body (Staging of the cancer)
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound
    An ultrasound probe is attached to the endoscopy (a thin flexible tube with camera at the tip) to detect how much depth the cancer is invaded and also to detect the nearby lymph node enlargement.
  • Diagnostic laparoscopy
    It is the surgical procedure using the laparoscope (thin tube with the camera) through a small incision to detect any spread of the cancer in the abdominal cavity.

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