Everybody suffers from a stomachache now and then. But if your upset tummy worsens or pops up with other unusual symptoms, it might be time to check in with a gastroenterologist.
November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Cancer Society estimates that about 26,240 cases of stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer) were diagnosed in 2018. While stomach cancer isn’t extremely common (rates of stomach cancer have steadily declined in recent years), it’s still important to understand the risk factors, symptoms to look out for, and what you can do to lower your chances.
According to the American Cancer Society, early-stage stomach cancer rarely causes symptoms, making it difficult to detect—only about 1 in 5 stomach cancers is found at an early stage before it’s spread to other areas of the body.
There are several risk factors that could make you more likely to get stomach cancer, including: your age (most people diagnosed with stomach cancer are between their late 60s and 80s); your gender (stomach cancer is more common in men); your ethnicity (Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders are more likely to get stomach cancer); a previous diagnosis (people who have been infected with Helicobacter pylori, or H pylori, stomach lymphoma, or pernicious anemia have a high risk of developing stomach cancer).
When stomach cancer does present with symptoms, they may include:
2.Loss of appetite or feeling full after eating a small amount
3.Nausea and vomiting
7.Frequent heartburn and indigestion
8.Unintentional weight loss
It’s important to note that many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by things other than cancer, such as a stomach virus, an ulcer, or IBS. They may occur with other types of cancer, the American Cancer Society says. Always talk to your doctor about new or worsening symptoms.
There’s no definite way to prevent stomach cancer, but you can change your lifestyle to lower the risk. Eating a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and participating in recommended screenings from your doctor can improve your chance of a long, healthy life.
If you think you’re at risk of stomach cancer, make an appointment with the experts at Gastroenterology & Associates of Pensacola. Call 850-474-8988 or visit them online at www.endo-world.com.