Stomach Cancer Causes

Author
By james
Reviewed
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
Jun 22, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Gastric cancer (cancer of the stomach) is one of the most common and deadly cancers, representing the 6th most common cancer and the 3rd most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. It is especially common among older males and can be asymptomatic during the early stages of the disease. In consequence, by the time symptoms or physical signs of gastric cancer develop, the condition is far too advanced for curative treatment. Signs and symptoms of gastric cancer include nausea, vomiting, indigestion, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), pallor (from anemia), weight loss, vomiting of blood, dark or black feces (melena), enlarged stomach, and certain palpable lymph nodes.

When gastric cancer involves the glands present on the lining of the stomach, it is known as adenocarcinoma. This is the most common subtype of stomach cancer, and it can be located either towards the esophagus in the upper part of the stomach (cardia), or the lower part of the stomach (non-cardia). This distinction is important because adenocarcinomas of the cardia have common risk factors with esophageal cancer (cancer of the esophagus), while non-cardia cancers do not.

The focus of this article is to describe the various risk factors associated with stomach cancer, understanding a risk factor as a characteristic, condition, or behavior that increases the likelihood of getting a disease. Note that risk factors are merely correlational, meaning that they only show the degree to which a pair of variables are related. However, they are not necessarily causal, because correlation does not prove causation. For example, obesity cannot be said to cause stomach cancer but people who suffer from obesity have greater odds of developing this disease.

1. Sex

Gastric cancer rates are considerably lower in females than males. This difference has been attributed to the protective effect of estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, against intestinal-type gastric cancer in women. For example, the risk for stomach cancer is lowered by delayed menopause (time of exposure to estrogen is increased), and it is increased with anti-estrogen drugs like tamoxifen. Furthermore, after menopause, the incidence of this cancer in women has a similar pattern to that in men. Finally, other possible factors that contribute to an increased incidence in males include diet and occupational exposure.

Stomach Cancer

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