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Stomach cancer is caused by cell changes in the lining of the stomach and may cause bleeding. It is more common in men than in women. Its occurrence has seen a remarkable decrease in the last 40 years.
Symptoms usually only develop once the disease has spread beyond the stomach. The sooner the cancer is detected, the better the survival chances. Symptoms of stomach cancer include:
As with all cancers, treatment of stomach cancer depends on the location of the tumour, its size and whether it has spread. If the disease is diagnosed before it reaches the lymph nodes and before it reaches the layer of muscle beneath the lining of the stomach, it is curable in 90% of cases. If the tumour is hindering the person's ability to ingest, feeding tubes are used to prevent malnutrition and dehydration.
Surgery may be required to remove part of the stomach. In some cases the accompanying lymph nodes have to be removed. More advanced tumours require radiation therapy.
Although chemotherapy is used to treat stomach cancer, it is not used frequently since only a minority of patients are suitable for this treatment.