Gastric cancer is a type of cancer where cancer cells usually originate and grow within the lining of the stomach. This is the most common type of gastric cancer and it is called adenocarcinoma. This disease tends to strike primarily men who are over the age of 40. It occurs more commonly in countries like Japan, Chile and Iceland and is not as common in the United States. However it can still certainly be a threat so understanding the primary gastric cancer symptoms can be a very effective way to identify the presence and threat of the disease early on so that it can be most effectively treated.
The incidence of gastric cancer is thought to be related to the amount of salted, cured and smoked foods which a person eats. This is probably why it is more common in other countries rather than the US.
The risk of developing gastric cancer can be higher if there is a strong family history of the disease. In addition the risk may be higher if a person develops an infection of the stomach caused by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori.
If you had a polyp form in your stomach larger than 2 centimeters, this may increase the risk of developing the disease. And people who smoke tend to be at higher risk than non-smokers.
- Some gastric cancer symptoms to take note of include the following:
- Fullness or pain in the abdominal region. This can occur right after eating a small meal.
- Dark stools may be another important symptom to be aware of.
- As the disease progresses, it may become more difficult to swallow. If this symptom arises, seek immediate medical attention.
- A cancer sufferer may experience excessive belching
- The progression of this disease may also cause a loss of appetite
- Other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting are common, especially the vomiting of blood.
- Extreme fatigue and sluggishness is also a common symptom
- Unexplained weight loss also tends to occur as the disease makes it more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients and digest food.
Early diagnosis of this disease may be more difficult since the symptoms may either be confused with other problems such as indigestion, gas, or heartburn. But if there is any concern, seek proper medical attention to make a reliable diagnosis. Tests like a blood count may be performed to check for anemia. And if the presence of cancer is suspected in the stomach, an esophagogastroduodenoscopy may be performed to inspect the affected area and take a biopsy for further analysis and study. A stool test may also be performed to test for the presence of blood in the stool.
If the cancer is localized in the stomach, the typical treatment involves a full or partial removal of the stomach. If a full removal is necessary, significant changes in diet will be required in order to enable a person to maintain the best quality of life. But once this procedure has been performed, the long term prognosis is generally very good.
If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body from the stomach or if the gastric cancer formed as a result of the spread of cancer cells from other parts of the body, the treatment options will most likely not result in a cure but help to prolong the life of the patient and control the symptoms. Therefore seek regular checkups and do as much as possible to lower the risk of developing this disease.