Written By: Care New England on September 09, 2021
Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer worldwide. Although it is not clear what causes this type of cancer, certain factors are known to increase the risk. Also known as gastric cancer, the disease is difficult to diagnose partly because the initial symptoms are vague and can be easily mistaken for other benign gastrointestinal disorders. Understanding the symptoms of stomach cancer will enable you to seek prompt medical treatment. This will in turn improve your chances of a successful recovery. Below are some signs to look out for.
Abdominal Pain or Discomfort
Everyone gets stomach aches every so often. However, pain or discomfort in the abdomen is one of the common warning signs of stomach cancer, especially when it occurs above the navel. Stomach cancer can also cause swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen.
The abnormal growth of cells that start in the stomach can place pressure on nearby organs and irritate the lining of the abdomen. As such, you should seek medical attention if these symptoms last more than a couple of days.
Indigestion or Heartburn
Without proper treatment, the cancer cells in your stomach will grow and crowd out normal cells over time. This will compromise the ability of your body to function as it should. The result may be acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion.
Indigestion or heartburn that does not go away can signal a problem. This is why you should not ignore the symptoms when they persist.
Loss of Appetite
The tumor in your stomach may interfere with the intake of food. Some growing cancer tumors produce hormones that affect how your body recognizes it needs more food. Also, sudden and intense stomach pain can contribute to poor appetite and trouble swallowing.
When you have stomach cancer, you may feel full even after eating small amounts of food. Poor appetite will ultimately lead to unexplained weight loss and reduced energy levels.
Diarrhea or Constipation
Cancer cells can break away from your stomach and spread to other parts of the body. If a tumor grows in your small intestines, it can cause a blockage that will in turn cause diarrhea. Similarly, tumors in the abdomen can squeeze and narrow the bowel, effectively causing constipation.
Changes in bowel habits could be a sign of stomach cancer. You may want to seek medical attention if the changes are persistent and unexplained.
Blood in the Stool or Vomit
This is not a sure sign of stomach cancer. Bleeding is rare and can also be caused by other noncancerous conditions. However, when tumor bleeding occurs, you may notice blood in your stool or vomit. The blood may be dark red or dark brown depending on how long it has been in the stomach.
Even when present in small amounts, blood in either your vomit or stool requires a visit to the doctor.
Low Red Blood Cell Count
Stomach cancer can cause anemia, which is a low number of red blood cells. The bleeding that accompanies this type of cancer may cause you to lose red blood cells faster than your body can make them. This will lead to a diminished supply of oxygen to your organs, something that will make you feel tired or weak.
Nausea and Vomiting
The stomach is part of the gastrointestinal tract. When a tumor grows in your stomach and spreads to other organs, it may cause an obstruction. This can contribute to nausea and vomiting, particularly throwing up solid food soon after eating.
Some of these symptoms may be due to conditions like a stomach ulcer or virus. In case you have any signs and symptoms that concern you, go and see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.
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