Stomach Cancer (Gastric Cancer) in Children
What Is Gastric Cancer?
Stomach cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lining of the stomach.
The stomach is a J-shaped organ in the upper abdomen. It is part of the digestive system, which processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) in foods that are eaten and helps pass waste material out of the body. Food moves from the throat to the stomach through a hollow, muscular tube called the esophagus. After leaving the stomach, partly-digested food passes into the small intestine and then into the large intestine.
The risk of stomach cancer is increased by having an infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium, which is found in the stomach.
What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Stomach Cancer in Children?
Many patients will have anemia (a lower than normal number of red blood cells), but have no signs or symptoms before the cancer spreads. Stomach cancer may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:
- Stomach pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Weight loss for no known reason.
- Constipation or diarrhea.
Other conditions that are not stomach cancer may cause these same signs and symptoms.
How Is Stomach Cancer in Children Diagnosed?
Tests to diagnose and stage stomach cancer may include the following:
- Physical exam and history.
- X-ray of the abdomen.
- Blood chemistry studies.
- CT scan.
Other tests used to diagnose stomach cancer include the following:
Upper endoscopy: A procedure to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine) to check for abnormal areas. An endoscope is passed through the mouth and down the throat into the esophagus. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue or lymph node samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
Barium swallow: A series of x-rays of the esophagus and stomach. The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound). The liquid coats the esophagus and stomach, and x-rays are taken. This procedure is also called an upper GI series.
Complete blood count (CBC): A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the following:
- The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
- The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells.
- The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.
What Is the Treatment and Prognosis for Stomach Cancer in Children?
Treatment of stomach cancer in children may include the following:
- Surgery to remove the cancer and some healthy tissue around it.
- Surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
Treatment of recurrent stomach cancer in children may include the following:
- A clinical trial that checks a sample of the patient’s tumor for certain gene changes.
- The type of targeted therapy that will be given to the patient depends on the type of gene change.
Prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on whether the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis.
Source: Medicine Health