Stomach Cancer is one of man’s most dreaded diseases, and there are good reasons for this fear. If diagnosed at an early enough stage the prospects for survival is better but the later the diagnosis is made the more dismal these prospects turn. The exact treatment course required depends on the progress of the disease and the patient’s general health. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are the three main conventional medicine treatment categories but a small if vocal number of alternative medicine practitioners advocate natural treatments. While all conventional treatments have risks and unpleasant side effects they have more proof of their effectiveness than the alternative approaches.
Surgery is the favored treatment when this life-threatening disease is detected at an early stage. If possible the surgeon will prefer to carry out an endoscope surgery where they pass a long thin tube into the stomach. They aim to remove the growth without the need for cutting into the stomach. Sometimes they succeed in totally removing it, but if this proves impossible they must carry out a full operation. The British National Health Services estimates that complete cures can be achieved in between 25% to 30% of cases.
In some of the most severe stomach cancer cases the doctors decide that the only viable treatment approach requires a partial or full removal of the patient’s stomach. In medical language they call this a full or partial gastrectomy. Sometimes the surgeon also needs to remove the patient’s oesophagus along with the stomach. The extent of the stomach surgery required depends on how far the disease has spread. This also determines whether the surgeon makes a number of small cuts or one large cut, but since the patient is under general anesthetic they will remain totally oblivious to what is happening in the operating theater. This is major surgery that takes a long time to carry out and has a very long recovery time. The patient may expect to spend at least two weeks in the hospital and a significantly longer time of home rest.
If the disease has unfortunately spread beyond the stomach it might be impossible to deal with this through a stomach removal operation. In these extremely serious situations the surgeon might only be able to take actions to relieve suffering. For example, they may want to operate to unblock the stomach so that the patient can at least digest their food without feeling intense pains or becoming sick. Options open to them in these circumstances include partial surgery to clear the blockage and inserting a special tube to widen the stomach.
Hospitals sometimes Intravenous chemotherapy on a patient as part of the preparation for surgery, or as a follow up after surgery and they also use it independently of surgery in order to destroy the cancer cells in the stomach and other parts of the body. Clinical experience shows that it can be effective in holding back the spread of the disease and if surgery is not practical for some reason it is a favored alternative. Its many unpleasant side effects including nausea and hair loss understandably make patients particularly fearful of undergoing this treatment.
A key difference between oral and intravenous chemotherapy is that while the latter needs to be done in hospital the former can be done in the patient’s own home. Sometimes they need to take this medicine in tablet form but it is also possible to use a portable pump. The big advantage to patients is that it reduces their need to visit the hospital. In their weak state cutting out hospital visits as much as possible is important. Treatments are usually done in a cyclical way with each cycle lasting the major part of a month.
It is also possible that the doctor might decide to treat the stomach cancer using a technique known as radiotherapy. It is easy enough to work out from its name that this treatment uses radiation to kill the diseased cells, but it is a risky procedure for many patients since the radiation beams can easily damage non-infected organs as well as the diseased cells. In the disease’s advanced stages there may be little alternative. Sometimes radiotherapy is employed for follow up treatment a few months after the patient has been through a course of chemotherapy. It also has similar unpleasant side effects to chemotherapy.
This strange named medication is designed to fight a protein called HER2 which sometimes is found in high levels in the diseased stomach cancer cells. Patients receive the drug through an intravenous drip every few weeks in the hospital. Although it is unable to cure the disease it could help slow down its progress. However, it can have some dangerous side effects with heart problems a particular concern. Any patient who has very high blood pressure or some other heart abnormality might not be able to receive this treatment.
In such life-threatening situations patients might be reluctant to volunteer to take part in clinical trials or they might feel it worthwhile to take the chance. Doctors and medical researchers are working hard to develop new drugs and treatment that are more effective than present techniques and have fewer side effects. They need at some point to carry out clinical trials. Patients who agree to take part must be aware of the risks but at the same time they have the hope of getting a cure not available to them through standard treatments.
Even though doctors and medical researchers believe it foolhardy to ignore conventional treatments and try to cure this disease through natural therapies, some people insist on following this approach. Fear of the aftereffects of standard medicines prompts people to try acupuncture, hydrotherapy and other natural therapies despite the lack of solid scientific evidence that they will help them.
The taking of certain herbal products can be done independently or combined with natural therapies. There is some evidence that Indian Gooseberry and Lu Feng Fang might have curative properties but anyone who wants to rely on treatment with herbs must appreciate what a great risk they are taking.
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