GI Blog

The Significance of Early Detection in Gastric Cancer

23 February 2024

Many patients, upon hearing the diagnosis of gastric cancer, often feel like they have received a death sentence. However, having gastric cancer does not equate to receiving a death notice.

Gastric cancer originates from malignant tumors in the epithelial cells of the gastric mucosa and can occur in various parts of the stomach. The stomach can be likened to a large "factory," with cells inside working diligently like "workers." Some are responsible for secreting stomach acid to dissolve food, while others absorb nutrients and transport them. Together, they maintain the stomach's function.

However, "gastric cancer cells" are different. Although they also grow on the stomach, they do nothing productive. They grow larger and deeper, spreading along blood vessels and lymphatic vessels to other organs, where they proliferate endlessly.

Gastric cancer can be broadly classified into two types: early-stage gastric cancer and advanced-stage gastric cancer.

In most cases of early-stage gastric cancer, it appears as a small lump on the stomach wall, not yet the size of a fingernail, and remains confined to the gastric mucosa. Sometimes, surgery may not even be necessary; it can be removed completely using an endoscope! Moreover, most early-stage gastric cancers, after surgical intervention, do not require chemotherapy and can be completely cured!

However, in advanced-stage gastric cancer, cancer cells have breached the submucosal layer, establishing themselves within the stomach and even spreading through lymphatic and blood vessels to other organs. Patients may experience pain, discomfort, or tumor bleeding. The five-year survival rate for advanced-stage gastric cancer is only 20% to 30%.

Numerous clinical studies indicate that 70-80% of early-stage gastric cancer patients exhibit no symptoms, and another 20% have atypical or mild symptoms that are challenging to distinguish from common gastritis or indigestion, making them easily overlooked by patients. Timely endoscopic examination is the only reliable means of detecting early-stage gastric cancer.

It is recommended that individuals over the age of 40, regardless of digestive symptoms, undergo a gastric endoscopy. Additionally, those with a history of gastrointestinal diseases, a family history of gastrointestinal tumors, and individuals with long-term unhealthy lifestyle habits should also consider a gastric endoscopy.

For those who cannot tolerate traditional endoscopy, capsule gastroscopy is an alternative. Early screening, diagnosis, and treatment are the keys to combating gastric cancer!