Stomach cancer, also referred to as gastric cancer is a type of cancer that begins to develop in the cells which line the stomach. The type of cancer is known as adenocarcinoma and develops over a period of several years. Even before there is a complete development of the cancerous cells, there are certain changes which occur in the lining of the area. Typically, these early occurrences or developments in the system do not exhibit any noticeable changes and this increases the risk of stomach cancer going undetected.
The type of cancer can affect any part of the stomach. While there has been a drop in the rate of cancer detected in the main body of the stomach, there is an increase in the number of cases where cancerous cells affect the top part of the stomach. Depending on which section in the stomach are the cancerous cells present, the symptoms and the outcomes will differ. While there are several risk factors that may cause the condition, researchers are still unable to map out the exact cause that leads to the development of the cancerous cells. Here are some of the different possible factors that may work in combination to cause stomach cancer:
- Foods – There are certain foods that are found to have a major role to play in the development of the condition. A diet that includes big portions of pickled vegetables or foods high in salt can increase the risk. Even dishes such as pastrami and smoked beef, when consumed daily can have a role to play. The countries that include the mentioned foods as a major part of their diet are found to have a higher rate of stomach cancer cases.
- Age – An individual is at an increased risk of developing the condition as he/she ages. Most people who are above the age group of 55 years are more likely to be afflicted by stomach cancer. Apart from the age factor, the gender too can play a role in increasing the risk of the condition. However, the reason for the same is still not known.
- Genetics – Genetics is suspected to have a relationship with causing cancerous cells to develop in the stomach. An individual with a close relative such as a parent or sibling with stomach cancer is more likely to develop the condition. There is no study that proves the main reason behind genetics being the cause of stomach cancer, however, there may be factors such as diet habits, infections and certain genetic cells that may be inherited at the time of birth. Family history is reported to have a strong link in about 2% of cases of the condition.
- Helicobacter pylori infection – A very common kind of bacteria, Helicobacter pylori infection or H. pylori can trigger issues such as stomach ulcers, inflammation of the stomach lining and indigestion too. Typically, this bacterium is not harmful, however, it may be for a few individuals. H. pylori may not act as the direct cause of stomach cancer; however, it can play a major role in increasing one’s risk of suffering from the condition.