Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, is a cancer that starts in the stomach. It is one of the top 10 cancers affecting both men and women in Singapore. We interviewed Dr. Benjamin Yip (Consultant Gastroenterologist in Singapore, and the Medical Director at Alpha Digestive & Liver Centre) on the topic of gastric cancer symptoms, gastric cancer screening, diagnosis, and on a new product that makes it easy to assess a patient’s risk of getting gastric cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of Gastric Cancer?
People sometimes ask if excessive acid reflux may be indicative of stomach cancer. This condition per se is a symptom attributable to the food pipe/oesophagus. As such, it is not strictly a stomach symptom. Gastric cancer symptoms may include the following. It is advisable to consult your gastroenterologist for further confirmation if you experience them.
- Abdominal bloating/ upper abdominal bloating
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Dysphagia (difficult swallowing)
Gastric Cancer Screening With GASTROClear To Assess the Risk Of Getting Gastric Cancer
Gastric cancer has poor survival when treated late (about 6%), but with early treatment, the chances of survival are much better at 70%. It is thus important for people to conveniently undergo gastric cancer screening, and be able to assess their risk of gastric cancer, and if necessary, take proactive measures to manage the risk.
GASTROClear is a new biomarker blood test developed locally in Singapore that makes it easy and cost-effective to screen for the risk of gastric cancer. Minimally invasive and less time-consuming, it is a cancer marker test that measures the levels of 12 microRNAs in the blood that are associated with gastric cancer. The result from the GASTROClear test will tell whether the patient is at low risk, moderate risk or high risk of getting gastric cancer.
If the result show that the patient has a low risk of getting gastric cancer, he / she can get the test repeated yearly. However, if the result shows the patient is at moderate level, he / she can either repeat the test every 6 months or go straight to your gastroenterologist. If the test result show high risk, a gastroenterologist should be consulted on a gastroscopy.
Each GASTROClear test costs around $300-$400 in Singapore.
Gastric Cancer Diagnosis
Following gastric cancer screening, it may be necessary to confirm if a patient has gastric cancer. For this purpose, an endoscopic procedure called gastroscopy will be conducted. During this procedure a long, thin flexible tube with camera will be inserted through the mouth to reach the stomach and to examine and biopsy the stomach. A small tissue sample that is collected during the procedure will be read by a pathologist to confirm the cancer.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.