Although stomach cancer is about one-fourth as common as it was 70 years ago, 24,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. If caught early, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. But, unfortunately, symptoms rarely occur until the disease spreads throughout the stomach and to other organs. At this advanced stage, the cancer is no longer treatable, and the five-year survival rate is only three percent.
Stomach cancer begins when cancer cells form in the inner lining of your stomach. These cells can grow into a tumor. Also called gastric cancer, the disease usually grows slowly over many years.If you know the symptoms it causes, you and your doctor may be able to spot it early, when it’s easiest to treat.
Scientists don’t know exactly what makes cancer cells start growing in the stomach. But they do know a few things that can raise your risk for the disease. One of them is infection with a common bacteria, H. pylori, which causes ulcers. Inflammation in your gut called gastritis, long-lasting anemia, and growths in your stomach called polyps also can make you more likely to get cancer.
To stop this stealthy, silent killer before it strikes, you should arm yourself with knowledge by learning the risk factors and the warning signs of stomach cancer. Stomach cancer can be hard to detect because when the symptoms finally do occur, they are often so mild that the person ignores them. According to the American Cancer Society & Cancer.org, the following symptoms could indicate stomach cancer:
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Discomfort or pain in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Vomiting, with or without blood
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Bloating of the stomach after meals
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness and fatigue
- Bleeding (vomiting blood or having blood in the stool)
- Weight loss (without trying)
- Abdominal (belly) pain
- Vague discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel
- A sense of fullness in the upper abdomen after eating a small meal
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Low red blood cell count (anemia)
Most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by things other than cancer, such as a stomach virus or an ulcer. They may also occur with other types of cancer. But people who have any of these problems, especially if they don’t go away or get worse, should check with their doctor so the cause can be found and treated.
Since symptoms of stomach cancer often do not appear until the disease is advanced, only about 1 in 5 stomach cancers in the United States is found at an early stage, before it has spread to other areas of the body.
Are You At Risk? Here Are The Most Common Factors That Increase Your Chances
- Age (over 55)
- Gender (males are two-thirds more likely than women)
- Diet high in foods that are smoked, dried, salted, or pickled
- Smoking and alcohol abuse
- Previous stomach surgery
- Family history
- Presence in stomach of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, which may cause ulcers
Note: you should be very careful and if you suffer from the warning signs of stomach cancer or are worried about your risk, talk to your doctor. He or she may refer you to a gastroenterologist (a physician who specializes in digestive disorders) for further evaluation. We really hope you find this article helpful and don’t forget to share it with your friends and family. Thank You and have a good one!