We all get stomach aches from time to time, but pain is usually not the first symptom of stomach cancer.
So what should be considered 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 your stomach. Located in the upper part of your abdomen (stomach and intestinal tract), your stomach digests the food you eat. Stomach cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in the stomach.
Over the past 10 years, doctors have seen 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.
Dr. Joyce explained, “We can now diagnose Helicobacter pylori, treat it with antibiotics when symptoms occur, eradicate the infection, and reduce the risk of stomach cancer.”
But he warns that a particular type of stomach cancer called gastroesophageal nodular adenocarcinoma is on the rise. This cancer starts in the esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.
Dr. Joyce said, “The United States has an obesity problem. “This causes more acid to flow into the esophagus, which leads to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can eventually lead to cancer.”
Early warning signals
The first symptoms of stomach cancer are usually not noticed because there are no special symptoms.
Stomach cancer is such a complex diagnosis. Most people may have symptoms, but they are often not obvious. These symptoms can be confused with many other benign (benign) gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.
When diagnosed with gastric cancer, these symptoms are not considered normal GI problems and occur in most people.
But there are some early warning signs:
Your stomach may feel bloated and tight, says Dr. Joyce.
“Gastric cancer hardens the stomach wall 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.
Is there anyone who hasn’t had a heart attack especially after a night of hot wings and pizza?
Heartburn that burns in the chest and upper throat is more common, says Dr. Joyce, and is usually nothing to worry about.
But if you have frequent heartburn that doesn’t go away with antacids or other medications, there may be cause for concern.
“If there is a lot of cancer at the exit point of the stomach, fluid can build up and the path of least resistance may be up to the esophagus/esophagus,” says Dr. Joyce.
Nausea and vomiting
Another sign of growth blocking the bowel? Nausea and even vomiting.
The food you eat and the liquids you drink cannot reach the first part of the intestine, the duodenum.
Dr. Joyce said, “Once you eat, you have nowhere to go. “It sends a signal to your brain that makes you feel nauseous.”
You might just feel like something is off. This general discomfort may be due to the spread of stomach cancer to the lining of your abdomen.
“It may feel like bloating,” says Dr. Joyce. “Your stomach might feel heavy.”
Sudden weight loss
If you have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or bloating, do not eat frequently to avoid pain.
Dr. Joyce says, “People stop being hungry and eventually start losing weight without even trying. “That’s probably the most important symptom.”
According to Dr. Joyce, this can be caused by prolonged bleeding, which, along with sudden weight loss, can be a sign of cancer.
Bleeding can cause anemia and a low red blood cell count, which may be the source of your fatigue.
Blood in the stool or vomiting
This symptom is much less common, but it can happen if you bleed a lot. You may notice a change in your stool to a very dark stool called melena.
“If you’re bleeding for a long time, you may not notice anything in your stool,” says Dr. Joyce.
A sense of accomplishment
Even if you eat a small amount, you feel full. Because of something called “early satiety,” you can’t eat a full meal without feeling full.
“This is what you used to eat