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Abdominal cancer comes in several forms, all involving the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells in a particular area of the body. Types of this cancer include stomach cancer, liver cancer, renal cancer, pancreatic cancer, bowel or colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer. There are a number of symptoms of abdominal cancer. These include, but are not limited to, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, night sweats, itchy skin, fever, jaundice, difficult or painful swallowing, loss of libido or difficulty performing sexually, anemia, breathlessness, constipation, diarrhea, prolonged or heavy periods, pale skin, abdominal pain, and lumps, masses or swelling in the abdomen.
Treatment for abdominal cancer may vary depending on the type of cancer the patient has. Many such cancers are treated with a three-pronged approach: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery can involve partially or fully removing any tumors, determining how advanced the cancer is, and confirming the diagnosis. Organs that are not essential to sustaining life may also be removed during surgery to prevent the cancer from worsening or spreading. In cases of ovarian cancer, for example, the ovaries themselves may be removed to increase a patient's survival odds.
Chemotherapy is the use of strong drugs to destroy cancer-causing cells. While chemotherapy can be effective, this treatment can also cause harsh side effects such as nausea, hair loss, pain in the joints and muscles, and severe fatigue, among many others. Radiation therapy is also used to kill or shrink abdominal cancer cells, but instead of using drugs, this treatment utilizes high doses of radiation. More than half of those diagnosed with cancer include radiation therapy in their treatment plan. While radiation is not painful to receive during the exposure itself, it can cause side effects similar to chemotherapy.
No one is quite sure what causes most abdominal cancer. Theories vary, but esearchers do know that heredity is a factor in the development of ovarian and other types of cancer of the abdomen. Genetic mutations passed down from generation to generation can increase one's odds of developing cancer of the abdomen. Environmental factors such as diet and smoking can also play a role in the development of certain types of abdominal cancer, such as stomach and liver cancer. Diets that include lots of fruits, vegetables and fiber decrease the odds of being diagnosed with cancer of all kinds.
The likelihood of being diagnosed with abdominal cancer also increases with age. Sometimes race plays a role; for example, African Americans are more likely to suffer from pancreatic cancer than those of other racial groups.