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Stomach Cancer

Integrative Treatment Options for All Stages of Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer Holistic Treatment Center

With a 5-year relative survival rate of only 33.3%, stomach cancer can be a challenging disease to treat.

However, researchers in the field of integrative medicine have discovered a range of natural therapies that have proven effective against the disease.

It’s critical, therefore, to recognize the signs of stomach cancer in its earliest stages to give patients the best possible chance of remaining cancer-free. Learning more about stomach malignancies, their warning signs, and available therapies can empower patients who face the prospect of living with this disease.

What Is Stomach Cancer?

Stomach (gastric) cancer occurs when abnormal cells form in the lining of a patient’s stomach. As these cells grow out of control, they spread throughout the outer layers of the stomach. Although this disease is not common in the United States, it does occur, especially in people with a family history of the disease.

What Causes Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer cells form when a genetic mutation occurs in the DNA of the cells in the stomach lining. That mutation causes the cancer cells to grow more rapidly than normal, forming a tumor. Because these cancer cells do not die off as quickly as normal cells, they often crowd healthy cells out and eventually spread to other parts of the body.

While scientists don’t yet know the root cause of the mutation, some factors increase a person’s chance of contracting the disease. These include:

  • Being 65 years old or older
  • Having type A blood
  • Being male
  • Having an ethnic heritage in Eastern Asia, South or Central America, or Eastern Europe
  • A history of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections
  • A history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • A history of gastritis
  • Previous infection of the Epstein-Barr virus
  • A history of stomach polyps or ulcers
  • Eating a diet high in salty, fatty, pickled, or smoked foods
  • Not eating enough vegetables and fruits
  • Frequent exposure to rubber, metal, and coal
  • Tobacco use
  • Overuse of alcoholic beverages
  • Being obese
  • Having autoimmune atrophic gastritis
  • Having a family history of stomach cancer, especially hereditary diffuse gastric cancer
  • Having certain genetic conditions, such as Lynch syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, or common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)

What Types of Stomach Cancer Are There?

Doctors classify stomach cancer by the type of cells in which the malignancy started. These types include:

  • Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinomas are the most common type of stomach cancer. These malignancies begin when mucous-producing cells mutate and grow out of control.
  • Carcinoid tumors: These cancers begin in the neuroendocrine cells — cells that function both as nerve cells and hormone-producing cells.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST): A type of soft tissue sarcoma, GIST tumors start in the nerve cells located in the stomach walls.
  • Lymphomas: These cancers form in the lymph glands or other cells in the immune system. If a patient’s body is fighting off a stomach infection, their body might send immune system cells there to attack the bacteria or viruses causing the disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Cancer?

One of the reasons that stomach cancer has such a poor prognosis is that it causes few noticeable symptoms during its early stages. If some of the symptoms it has in common with other diseases, such as heartburn and indigestion, do not resolve on their own, it’s well worth a visit to the doctor to rule out stomach cancer early in the disease’s progress. Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:

  • Diminished appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weakness or exhaustion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, especially vomiting blood
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Black-colored stools
  • Excessive gas or bloating after a meal
  • Pain in the stomach, particularly if it is above the belly button
  • A feeling of fullness even after small meals or snacks

How Do Doctors Diagnose Stomach Cancer?

After asking about your symptoms and reviewing your history, your doctor will conduct a physical examination to feel for any masses (tumors) in your stomach. Other tests include:

  • Upper endoscopy: Usually done under anesthesia or sedation, this exam involves inserting a tube with a small camera into your mouth and advancing it into your stomach. If the doctor finds suspicious tissues, they can pass tiny surgical instruments into the stomach to remove a small bit of tissue to perform a biopsy. After the procedure, the doctor will send the sample to a lab to test for cancer cells. If the test indicates that a patient has cancer, another endoscopy called an endoscopic ultrasound, can help see if the cancer has progressed out of the stomach’s lining into its wall.
  • Imaging tests: These tests include CT scans, an upper GI series (an X-ray performed after a patient drinks a solution that highlights the stomach with barium, a safe radioactive substance), and MRIs. If a patient has cancer, the doctor might use a PET scan to detect if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can reveal quite a bit of information about how various organs function. If one organ is functioning at less-than-optimum levels, that might indicate that the cancer has spread to that organ.
  • Laparoscopy: A type of exploratory surgery, laparoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor makes tiny incisions in a patient’s abdomen and then inserts a small camera inside so that they can see all your abdominal organs to assess how far cancer has spread.

How Do Doctors Stage Stomach Cancer?

Doctors use a staging system to determine to what degree a patient’s cancer has grown or spread to nearby tissues or other parts of the body. Stomach cancer exists in the following stages:

  • Stage 0: Doctors have detected some abnormal cells in the stomach’s lining, but they haven’t spread to other parts of the stomach.
  • Stage 1: The abnormal cells have formed into a tumor and have spread into the stomach’s second layer (the submucosa) and into as many as six lymph nodes. Also, if cancer has progressed into the stomach’s muscles but not into the lymph nodes, doctors classify it as Stage 1.
  • Stage 2: Cancer cells have spread into the second layer of the stomach and into 7-15 lymph nodes. Alternatively, if the tumor has entered the subserosa (the layer underneath the stomach’s outer layer) and has affected as many as six lymph nodes or if it has moved into the stomach’s outer layer and has not spread into the lymph nodes or other organs, doctors also classify it as Stage 2.
  • Stage 3: The tumor has spread into the subserosa and as many as 15 lymph nodes. Additionally, if the cancer cells have spread into nearby organs but not into the nearby lymph nodes or organs in remote parts of the body, doctors will classify it as Stage 3.
  • Stage 4: At Stage 4, cancer has spread into more than 15 lymph nodes, into nearby organs, and one lymph node, or the cancer has spread into organs in remote parts of the body.

How Can I Prevent Stomach Cancer?

While there are no sure ways to prevent stomach cancer 100%, there are a few preventative steps you can take to lessen your risk. They include:

  • Getting early treatment for H. pylori infections, ulcers, and gastric reflux disease
  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and avoiding overly salted foods and red meats
  • Avoiding tobacco use and not drinking alcohol more than normal guidelines recommend
  • Maintaining a healthy weight for your height
  • Getting regular screenings if you are at high risk for the disease

What Natural Treatment Options Can Treat Stomach Cancer?

Fortunately, several natural treatment options have proven effective against the types of cells involved in forming cancerous stomach tumors. These non-toxic therapies include:

Medical Cannabis

Since many traditional therapies, such as chemotherapy, prove ineffective against stomach cancer; patients often look for hope in integrative cancer treatments. Whether as a complement to traditional treatment or as an alternative, cannabis offers great promise as both a treatment and a palliative (symptom-relieving) therapy.

Cannabis inhibits the formation of a compound called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a critical ingredient in the growth and spread of stomach and other cancers. VEGF helps cancer cells create new blood vessels, which enables malignant cells to multiply and spread into other tissues. Stopping that process can stop the spread.

In addition, cannabidiol, a cannabis extract, has proven to induce cell cycle arrest and, eventually, cell death in human stomach cancer cells, as a 2019 study showed. Not only can it stop the progress of cancer, but it can also actually kill the cancer cells without harming the normal ones.

Mistletoe IV Therapy

In a systematic literature review published in 2009, researchers examined how mistletoe extract affects the survival of cancer patients. The medical studies they reviewed showed increased survival rates across the board when patients received treatments with Iscador, a patented mistletoe extract.

High-Dose Vitamin C IV Therapy

Not only do studies show that vitamin C is a vital ingredient in cancer prevention, but they also show that this vitamin, in high doses delivered intravenously, can induce cell cycle arrest — stopping cancer growth. Additionally, it can even cause cell death in gastric cancer cells, reversing the progress of the disease.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Although normal cells need oxygen to grow and thrive, stomach tumors depend on a low-oxygen (hypoxic) environment to spread into surrounding tissues and grow. A low-oxygen environment stimulates the tumor to produce new blood vessels to feed it, stimulating growth.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides doctors with an alternative cancer treatment that feeds oxygen into the bloodstream. Eventually, as a 2018 study shows, the oxygen makes its way into the tumor, slowing or stopping the growth of new blood vessels — and, ultimately, the cancer itself.

Low-Intensity and High-Intensity PEMF

Another way to deliver more oxygen to cancer cells, pulsed electromagnetic therapy in both its low-intensity and high-intensity versions stimulates better blood flow to stomach cancer cells, a 2018 literature review revealed. In addition, these treatments enhance the production of cytokines, the body’s anti-inflammatory defense system.

Since cancer cells need both inflammation and a low-oxygen environment, the oxygen-rich blood flow and cytokine production slow down cancer cell production. The benefits don’t end there. The magnetic fields drive oxidative stress, damaging cancer cells’ membranes and causing them to die off.

Learn How Holistic Therapies Can Help You Fight Stomach Cancer

These five treatments are only part of the broad range of therapies the holistic medicine team at Brio-Medical offers to stomach cancer patients. To discover which treatments might work best, schedule your free consultation with our caring team.

External references:

“Cancer Stat Facts: Stomach Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/stomach.html. Accessed September 19, 2022.

“Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Screening (PDQ®)–Patient Version.” National Cancer Institute, https://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach/patient/stomach-screening-pdq. Accessed September 19, 2022.

“Stomach Cancer.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15812-stomach-cancer. Accessed September 19, 2022.

“Stomach cancer.” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stomach-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352438. Accessed September 19, 2022.

‘Stomach Cancer Stages.” Moffitt Cancer Center, https://moffitt.org/cancers/stomach-gastric-cancer/diagnosis/stages/. Accessed September 19, 2022.

Blázquez, Cristina et al. “Cannabinoids inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway in gliomas.” Cancer research vol. 64,16 (2004): 5617-23. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-03-3927.

Zhang, Xin et al. “Cannabidiol Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Cell Apoptosis in Human Gastric Cancer SGC-7901 Cells.” Biomolecules vol. 9,8 302. 25 Jul. 2019, doi:10.3390/biom9080302.

Ostermann, T., Raak, C. & Büssing, A. "Survival of cancer patients treated with mistletoe extract (Iscador): a systematic literature review." BMC Cancer 9, 451 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2407-9-451.

Hoang, Bach Viet, et al. “Effect of dietary vitamin C on gastric cancer risk in the Korean population.” World journal of Gastroenterology vol. 22,27 (2016): 6257-67. doi:10.3748/wjg.v22.i27.6257.

Zhang, Z-W et al. “Effect of physiological concentrations of vitamin C on gastric cancer cells and Helicobacter pylori.” Gut vol. 50,2 (2002): 165-9. doi:10.1136/gut.50.2.165

Wei, Xiang, et al. “Hyperbaric oxygen treatment sensitizes gastric cancer cells to melatonin-induced apoptosis through multiple pathways.” Journal of cellular biochemistry vol. 119,8 (2018): 6723-6731. doi:10.1002/jcb.26864.

Sengupta, Somoshree, et al. “A review on the use of magnetic fields and ultrasound for non-invasive cancer treatment.” Journal of Advanced Research vol 14 (2018), 97-111. doi:10.1016/j.jare.2018.06.003.

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