Stomach cancer starts in the inner lining of a stomach, a mucous membrane. The neoplasm arises from pre-cancerous changes – epithelial dysplasia or adenomatous gastric polyps. Risk factors include H. pylori or EBV infection, increased consumption of smoked and pickled foods, tobacco use, and excessive body mass.
Symptoms of gastric cancer are non-specific, even having two or three of them doesn’t necessarily mean that you have cancer. Early signs include discomfort or pain in the stomach, loss of appetite, nausea, and heartburn. At the advanced stages blood in stool, vomiting, weight loss and jaundice join.
Stomach Cancer Treatment
Treatment of stomach cancer is based on the results of preliminary diagnostics. Diagnostics reveals the most intricate details of patient’s health state, it includes:
- Blood tests for specific tumor markers (CEA, CA 19-9, CA 72-4) and general parameters (hemoglobin, kidneys and liver function).
- CT or PET scan that makes the tumor and surrounding tissues visible.
- Endoscopy with biopsy that reveals histological type of the neoplasm and degree of its malignancy. It can be also used for HER2 genetic testing.
Knowing stage of stomach cancer, doctor proceeds to the most appropriate therapy. Hospitals offer all treatment methods with proven effectiveness:
- Surgical removing of tumor and other affected tissues. Preference is given to minimally invasive procedures, without total gastrectomy.
- Radiation therapy slows growth of inoperable tumors, relieves pain and bleeding. In combination with chemotherapy (namely, 5-FU) it is an effective preventive measure against the disease recurrence.
- Targeted therapy, like Sutent (sunitinib) and Gleevec (imatinib), kills only oncological cells, avoiding damage of health tissues.
Once the active part of treatment is completed, rehabilitation may start. Gastroenterological rehabilitation combined procedures for improving general fitness, procedures for restoring function of the gastrointestinal tract and follow-up diagnostic tests.
Rehabilitation program is strictly individual, meeting needs and abilities of the patient. Therapeutists, gastroenterologists, oncologists, physiotherapists, nutritionists and psychologists are involved in it. The treatment scheme is constantly adjusted to changes in a patient’s state.
The program may last from few weeks to few months. Its first and the most visible result is alleviation of long-term and delayed side effects, such as weight loss, dumping syndrome, reflux and digestive disturbances. Recovery under the strict control of qualified healthcare professionals allows a patient to return to usual everyday life much faster.
Leading hospitals for treatment of gastric cancer
When deciding to undergo treatment of stomach cancer abroad, a patient faces great variety of clinics that offer such medical service. Thus, healthcare system is represented by more than 2000 hospitals. Some of them are especially famous for excellent results in gastric cancer therapy:
- Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
- University Hospital Frankfurt am Main
- University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf
- University Hospital Bonn
- Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center, New York City
- Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, Boston
- Freeman Hospital, Newcastle
- University Hospital Würzburg
- BMI Healthcare Institute
- Cambridge University Hospital
- University Hospital Heidelberg
- Cleveland Clinic
Leading hospitals offer conventional and innovative treatment, as well as possibility to participate in the clinical trials. Surgeries are performed by great known worldwide doctors. Equipment for operating rooms and radiotherapy departments is updated every year or more often.
Cost of stomach cancer treatment
Price of the treatment program depends on the clinical situation: type of the tumor, stage of the process and involvement of nearby organs, patient’s age and comorbidities. Thus, chemotherapy will cost from US$6,500 and extensive surgical intervention – from UA$31,500.
Also, price of medical services depends on the level of a hospital and treating physician. For example, diagnostics and preoperative preparation at the Hospital Sachsenhausen (Academic Hospital of the University of Frankfurt am Main) costs 3,500 €. Price of the diagnostic program at the University Hospital Duesseldorf reaches 5,200 €.