About 30% of French people are infected with Helicobacter pylori. Fortunately, the infection only leads to cancer in 1% of those infected.
The bacterium is transmitted from man to man, orally. Transmission is by ingestion of stool or gastrointestinal tract. It is estimated that if a child has not been infected with the bacteria after the age of 10, it is less likely to contract it later. It is therefore in early childhood that contamination occurs.
Helicobacter pylori infection is not enough on its own to induce gastric cancer. It occurs at an early stage of carcinogenesis, associated with other factors: aggressiveness of the bacteria, genetic background, but also environmental factors (diet and smoking).
It is often difficult to establish an early diagnosis of stomach cancer. In most cases, the cancer progresses silently, without giving any particular signs or symptoms, and it is only at an advanced stage that the disease is discovered. Among these symptoms, the patients complain of:
- stomach pain,
- loss of appetite,
- fatigue, etc.
In the vast majority of cases, 95 times out of 100, it is an adenocarcinoma, a malignant tumor that develops at the expense of the glands and the lining of the stomach. This type of cancer can occur as a result of gastritis or stomach ulcer.
Although cancers of the antrum (the lower part of the stomach) remain largely the most frequent, the proportion of cancers of the cardia (at the top of the stomach) has increased sharply in recent years.
When stomach cancer is diagnosed, several parameters will be considered:
- Its location: if the tumor is located, for example in the cardia, between the esophagus and the stomach.
- Its stage: how far the cancer has spread in depth, whether or not the lymph nodes and any metastases.
- His precise type under the microscope called intestinal, diffuse or mixed.
To know all these elements, additional examinations will be carried out. Depending on these criteria, the treatment may vary.