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Stomach cancer, also referred to as gastric cancer, is a cancer that starts in the stomach. These cancers are slow growing and rarely cause symptoms early on. The cause of stomach cancer is unknown, but factors that put people at risk include Helicobacter pylori infection, smoking, diets high in smoked foods, salted fish and meats, and pickled vegetables. When signs and symptoms do occur, they include poor appetite, unintended weight loss, abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and a low red blood cell count (i.e., anemia).
Stomach cancer is usually found when a patient sees their doctor or healthcare provider because of signs or symptoms they are experiencing. To determine if a person has stomach cancer, a healthcare provider will perform a detailed medical history and physical exam. If needed, other tests will be performed including an upper endoscopy, the main test used to diagnose stomach cancer. If abnormal tissue is seen, physicians are able take tissue biopsies during the procedure.
After stomach cancer is diagnosed and its stage is determined, a team of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers will discuss treatment options with the patient. Often times, the best treatment approach for stomach cancer uses 2 or more of the following treatment methods.