Adenocarcinoma of the stomach is a type of gastric cancer. It begins in the glandular cells of the stomach, which are cells that excrete substances such as fluids and mucous. The prognosis and treatment options vary depending upon how advanced the cancer is.
Most people who develop gastric cancer have a bacteria in their stomachs called Helicobacter pylori. This bacteria grows only in the stomach. It causes weakness in the stomach lining and allows the body's digestive juices to irritate the inside of the stomach, which causes ulcers and inflammation. Researchers believe that Helicobacter pylori contributes to the development of adenocarcinoma of the stomach because the disease usually develops in spots where the stomach lining is inflamed.
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Men who are more than 40 years old are at the highest risk. Other high-risk groups include minorities and people who live in poverty; smokers and individuals who have blood type A are also at risk. The disease is more prevalent in Asia and South America than in the United States.
Adenocarcinoma of the stomach causes symptoms such as heartburn, gas and bloating. Patients might have a sense of fullness after eating small meals, and they might experience unexplained weight loss. Less frequently, patients vomit blood or pass black, tarry stool.
A doctor can diagnose the disease by performing an endoscopy. The doctor uses a long, flexible tube with a small camera attached to look inside the body. He or she will also take a biopsy, or a tissue sample of the affected area, so that tests can be performed on it. If the patient has adenocarcinoma of the stomach, the doctor will also order computed tomography (CT) scans to see how far the cancer has spread.
The prognosis varies depending upon the patient. People whose cancers form in the lower part of the stomach generally tend to do better than people who have cancer in the upper portion of the stomach. Doctors treat the disease by removing the stomach and lymph nodes. Some patients also benefit from chemotherapy and radiation.
Many people who have adenocarcinoma of the stomach do not know that they have a serious disease until the cancer is already in the advanced stages. The disease metastasizes, or spreads quickly to other parts of the body, even when the disease is in its early stages, which can make treatment difficult. This type of cancer cannot be cured if the cancer spreads outside the stomach. In these cases, doctors prescribe treatments that lessen the symptoms and make their patients more comfortable.