Stage 4 Stomach Cancer

There is no doubt, if you have stage 4 stomach cancer you are likely to be suffering symptoms and I will provide understanding and advice for you.

Symptoms may include pain, malnutrition, ascites, potential stomach cancer bleeding, anemia, loss of appetite, weight loss and much more.

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Your Stage 4 Stomach Cancer

With aggressive gastric cancer, your 5 year survival statistic is only around 4%.

Whilst this statistic is bad, you might be offered treatment to help with your symptoms or even try to reverse the disease. Can you survive stage 4 stomach cancer? Some can, but sadly in most situations it is a terminal diagnosis.

You may need admission to hospital for specific treatments or perhaps offered hospice care where personnel are trained to deal with your symptoms.

You might have asked the "am I dying doctor?" question and are now on a different part of your cancer journey and are considering stopping your treatment

It’s a very emotional time as there is a realism that your life is most likely coming to an end and this can bring about many different feelings for yourself, your partner and also your family

I remember being told that my father had aggressive disease when I was a medical student. He was diagnosed by a surgeon and I remember going in to his office and sitting down with my mother to be told that he had stage 4 stomach cancer symptoms.

The surgeon said “well...we can do lots of fancy operations and procedures, but it won’t change the outcome”.

To hear those words is devastating, but to be honest looking back on it I think that surgeon was right in my fathers case.

Instead of operating and making him more ill than he already was, he allowed my father to have a reasonable quality of life for a while.

But, for some people and their families the diagnosis may trigger desperation to find that elusive cure, a very common and human thing to do and equally right.

Whatever your situation and decision, there is a lot of support available to you and your family.

Your physician or oncologist will be able to provide further information on this.

Symptoms

Cancer Spread has occurred and, as a result you may be suffering nausea symptoms. Some people, but not all, develop pain particularly when there is spread to the bone (see bone metastases).

You might need a blood transfusion due to anemia from bleeding

Often constipation can occur and you may need medications to help this.

Some people develop progressive swelling in their abdomen which is uncomfortable. This is due to ascites or fluid in the abdomen and may need to be drained by your doctor.

Malnutrition is a particular problem and this is partly due to the disease itself, but also due to the stomach closing up as the disease advances.

There are always options available to help with all these stage 4 stomach cancer symptoms.

Palliative Care

Pain Management Unit Sign

Palliative care is available to you when there is no chance of cure.

It is a speciality in its own right and one that allows you, when you have end stage stomach cancer, to end your days with dignity by providing assistance and support.

It’s a speciality that can also help you with your end of life decisions, when you have stage 4 stomach cancer.

This form of care can be given to you in several different places including your home, a hospice or in hospital.

They deal with cancer pain, support as well as the various chemotherapy and radiotherapy options available to you.

Fundamental to this is allowing you to live as long, and with as good a quality of life, as possible:

In Your Home

For most people, staying at home is an ideal. Surveys have shown 93% of us wish to die in our own homes.

No one wants to leave their home, as it is the environment in which they feel most comfortable, with the support of their loved ones around them.

For most people this is the sensible option, because whilst diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer, it doesn't mean that death is imminent. 

It may mean having palliative care come to you in the form of your primary physician or GP, perhaps a cancer specialist nurse to help with support as well as assistance with care duties or treatments.

You may have palliative surgery and once over this, go home with your families support and love.

You may be able to attend a local day unit in hospital for your palliative chemotherapy or radiotherapy too.

In A Hospice

Hospices are places where you can get support and care from qualified staff trained to deal with the complications.

A lot of people worry about hospices, but they are actually wonderful places.

There is usually good camaraderie, a nice environment and all the technology on hand to deal with your symptoms should you need them.

They’re also excellent places when dying of cancer, but also for respite and support, both for yourself and your carers.

Often charity driven, hospices are highly recommended by most people.

Mount Edgcumbe Hospice, Cornwall

In A Hospital

Royal Cornwall Hospital

Whilst only a small percentage of people wish to be in hospital, particularly in the last days of their lives, hospitals are undoubtedly required when you are unable to have your complications dealt with either at home or indeed in a hospice.

There are often palliative care teams that can advise on your management, instigate appropriate treatment and services, as well as getting you back to your chosen environment whether home or hospice.

Complications

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