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What Is the Connection Between Stomach and Liver Cancer?

The liver is commonly afftected by cancer that begins in the stomach and spreads.
Due to the close proximity of stomach to liver cancer cells can travel from one organ to another.
Article Details
  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Researchers work toward uncovering links between various cancer types in an effort to enhance awareness and treatments. Stomach and liver cancer — or gastric cancer and hepatic cancer — are two such cases, and these respective conditions have many common associations via their causes, symptoms, and treatments. Inflammatory ailments may contribute to both conditions, and similar groups of people appear susceptible. Due to the organs' shared location in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, symptoms like abdominal pain and swelling often coincide. A further unfortunate connection exists because cancer that begins in the stomach often spreads to the liver.

The stomach and liver are both important components of the digestive system. They lie in close proximity in the upper abdominal area, with a portion of the liver overlapping a portion of the stomach. Due to this nearness, the movement of cancer cells from the stomach to the liver, or vice versa, becomes much easier. Metastasis, a technical term for cancer spread, thus occurs frequently, particularly in the case of stomach cancer spreading to the liver.

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When cancer cells spread from one organ to another, they typically do so by first invading the muscles and eventually the outside layers of the source organ. In the case of stomach cancer, for example, the cancer cells may reach the outside of the stomach and then penetrate the outer layer of the liver. The blood stream can also carry cancer cells. Spreading occurs in the latter Stage III or Stage IV of stomach and liver cancer.

As digestive organs, the stomach and the liver also carry many of the same cancer origins. For example, chronic inflammation of both organs can create conditions for both stomach and liver cancer. Such inflammation frequently results from ulcers in the stomach or from conditions like hepatitis and cirrhosis in the liver. The enlargement and irritation characterized by inflammation damages DNA structures in both organs. Both cancers also appear to have higher incidence rates among certain populations, such as Asians, heavy drinkers, and the obese.

Stomach and liver cancer share common symptoms as well. Weight loss often occurs in both conditions, likely because of a loss of appetite. Hunger deterioration may be due to an abdominal mass caused by tumors. In addition, both types of cancers can cause swelling and pain in the abdomen. Other shared symptoms between the diseases include fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.

Some forms of treatment for stomach and liver cancer also coincide. The use of intensive chemotherapy drugs is frequent in both treatment protocols. Surgical intervention is more prevalent in stomach cancer treatment, however.

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