Early detection can greatly direct treatment plans and thereby your quality of life. While stage 1 stomach cancer might only include surgery to remove the tumor, stages 2, 3, and 4 will look a lot different. Chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy can be part of the treatment plan. Using anticancer drugs like fluorouracil and cisplatin to kill cancer cells via chemotherapy can have immediate or delayed effects, depending on the medication, combination of treatments, and the person’s general health. Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, bleeding, sore throat, hair loss, skin issues, and tingling in hands and feet are considered side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
With targeted therapy (using drugs to single out specific molecules such as proteins in the cancer cells), the side effects can be similar, with the addition of stomach pain, muscle and joint pain, headaches, and heart issues. Immunotherapy (using your own immune system to fight the tumor) can make someone feel weak, tired, and short of breath. Fever, cough, nausea, itching, skin issues, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, and irregular bowel movements can be part of the side effects, too.
How you consume food and what you can consume could also look different, particularly after stomach surgery. You may need to eat smaller meals more frequently rather than three large meals. You might experience dumping syndrome, characterized by nausea, diarrhea, sweating, and flushing after eating. This can happen when all or part of your stomach is removed. Using feeding tubes to get in nutrition, taking nutritional supplements, and working with a dietician can all become a part of your life.