Stomach Cancer Is A Silent Killer! Here Are The Signs And Symptoms

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is a cancer that develops from the lining of the stomach. It can may spread from the stomach to other parts of the body, particularly the liver, lungs, bones, lining of the abdomen and lymph nodes.

In the United States, five-year survival is 28%,while in South Korea it is over 65%, partly due to screening efforts.

Globally, stomach cancer is the fifth leading type of cancer and the third leading cause of death from cancer, making up 7% of cases and 9% of deaths.

In 2012, it newly occurred in 950,000 people and caused 723,000 deaths.

The cause is believed to be due to the eating of less salted and pickled foods as a result of the development of refrigeration as a method of keeping food fresh.

Stomach cancer occurs most commonly in East Asia and Eastern Europe and it occurs twice as often in males as in females.

Symptoms Of Cancer

These may include :

  • heartburn, upper abdominal pain, nausea and loss of appetite.

Later signs and symptoms may include:

  • weight loss,
  • yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes,
  • difficulty swallowing and blood in the stool among others.
  • a sensation of being very full during meals
  • feeling bloated after meals
  • frequent burping
  • heartburn
  • indigestion that does not resolve
  • stomach ache
  • pain in the breastbone
  • trapped wind
  • vomiting, which may contain blood.

However, many of these symptoms are very similar to those of other, less serious conditions. However, anyone with an increased risk for stomach cancer who experiences swallowing difficulties should seek prompt medical treatment.
As the stomach cancer becomes more advanced, some people might experience the following symptoms:

  • anemia
  • a buildup of fluid in the stomach, which may cause the stomach to feel lumpy to the touch
  • black stools that contain blood
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

Risk Factor

  • Smoking,
  • Dietary factors such as pickled vegetables and obesity are other risk factors.

About 10% of cases run in families, and between 1% and 3% of cases are due to genetic syndromes inherited from a person’s parents such as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. Most cases of stomach cancers are gastric carcinomas.

Most of the time, stomach cancer develops in stages over years.

Diagnosis is usually by biopsy done during endoscopy.

This is followed by medical imaging to determine if the disease has spread to other parts of the body.

Japan and South Korea, two countries that have high rates of the disease, screen for stomach cancer.

A Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of cancer as does the stopping of smoking.

READ ALSO: Penile Cancer (cancer of the penis)

Treatment

Treatments may include:

  • some combination of surgery,
  • chemotherapy,
  • radiation therapy and
  • targeted therapy.

If treated late, palliative care may be advised.

Outcomes are often poor with a less than 10% five-year survival rate globally.

This is largely because most people with the condition present with advanced disease.

Read also: 5 early symptoms of cancer all men should know

Causes

Here are some of the causes ;

Gastric cancer occurs as a result of many factors. It occurs twice as commonly in males as females.

Estrogen may protect women against the development of this form of cancer.

Infections

Helicobacter pylori infection is an essential risk factor in 65–80% of gastric cancers, but only 2% of people with Helicobacter infections develop stomach cancer.

Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of developing gastric cancer significantly, from 40% increased risk for current smokers to 82% increase for heavy smokers.

Gastric cancers due to smoking mostly occur in the upper part of the stomach near the esophagus.

Some studies show increased risk with alcohol consumption as well.

READ FULL ARTICLE ON STOMACH CANCER HERE

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