Although we all experience stomach pain from time to time, pain is usually not the first symptom of stomach cancer.
What should we fear instead?
Surgeon General Daniel Joyce, MBBCh, shares what symptoms you may experience and when to see your doctor.
What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, affects the stomach. Located in the upper part of the abdomen (gastrointestinal tract or intestinal tract), the stomach digests the food you eat. Stomach cancer occurs when stomach cells grow abnormally.
Over the past 10 years, doctors have noted a decline in the incidence of stomach cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, stomach cancer accounts for about 1.5 percent of all new cancers diagnosed in the United States each year.
The main reason for the decrease is Helicobacter pylori infection, or Helicobacter pylori infection being diagnosed earlier than before. H. pylori causes chronic inflammation of the gastric mucosa, as well as ulcers, and is considered one of the main causes of gastric cancer.
“Now that we can diagnose Helicobacter pylori early, we can treat patients with antibiotics when they have symptoms, eradicate the infection and reduce the risk of stomach cancer,” explains Dr. Joyce.
But he warns that a special type of stomach cancer called gastroesophageal nodular adenocarcinoma is on the rise. This cancer starts in the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.
Dr. Joyce said, “The United States has an obesity problem. “It increases the acidity of the esophagus and causes a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can eventually lead to cancer.”
Early warning signs
The first symptoms of stomach cancer are often so subtle that they go unnoticed.
Stomach cancer is one such difficult diagnosis. Most people may have symptoms, but they are often unexplained. These symptoms can be confused with many other benign (benign) diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
These symptoms are considered normal gastrointestinal problems and occur in most people – by the time gastric cancer is finally diagnosed, it is usually at an advanced stage.
But there are some early warning signs:
Your stomach may feel bloated and tight, says Dr. Joyce.
“Gastric cancer makes the stomach wall very hard and reduces its ability to retain food,” he notes. “When stomach cancer spreads to the lining of the abdomen, fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity.”
It makes you look nine months pregnant.
Especially after a night of hot wings and pizza, who hasn’t had a heart attack?
A burning pain in the chest or upper throat is common and nothing to worry about, says Dr. Joyce.
But if you have persistent heartburn that doesn’t go away with antacids or other medications, it may be a cause for concern.
“If there’s a lot of cancer in the gastric outlet, fluid builds up and the path of least resistance goes back to the esophagus/esophagus,” says Dr. Joyce.
Nausea and vomiting
Another sign of esophageal obstruction? Nausea and even vomiting.
The food you eat and the liquids you drink cannot enter the duodenum, the first part of the intestine.
Dr. Joyce said, “Once you eat, you have nowhere to go. “It sends a signal to your brain that makes you feel nauseous.”
You may just feel that something is wrong. This general discomfort may be due to the spread of stomach cancer to the lining of the abdomen.
“You may feel full,” says Dr. Joyce. “You might have a heavy stomach.”
Sudden weight loss
If you experience nausea, vomiting, or bloating, avoid eating frequently to avoid nausea.
Dr. Joyce says, “People stop being hungry and eventually start losing weight without any effort. “Perhaps this is the most disturbing sign.”
According to Dr. Joyce, this can be associated with prolonged bleeding, which, along with sudden weight loss, can be a sign of cancer.
Bleeding can lead to anemia and a low red blood cell count, which is the source of your fatigue.
Blood in stool or vomit
This symptom is much less common, but it can happen if you bleed a lot. You may notice that the color of the stool changes to very dark, which is called chalky.
“If the bleeding is very slow, you may not notice anything