Stomach Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Stomach or gastric cancer starts when cancerous cells form in the lining of the stomach. According to records, stomach cancer cases in the United States are continuously declining; however, cases in Asian countries are rapidly increasing. This may be attributed to race – certain races are more susceptible to certain types of cancers – or to lifestyle trends.
The stomach expands when eating; thus it can also house growing tumors without being noticed. Furthermore, symptoms of stomach cancer are vague and very similar to other ailments. Bloody stools, for instance, is common to many types of cancers and other diseases. Blood in stools are not always visible and may also occur recurrently but not always. This is why some people think that having bloody stools once doesn’t signify any health problems. However, not being able to see the blood doesn’t mean it is no longer there. Examinations like Fecal Occult Blood Test are conducted to identify the presence of blood in the stools.
Other symptoms of stomach cancer include abdominal pain. Frequent and severe abdominal pains can already be a sign of advanced cancer. Other noticeable signs of stomach cancer are abdominal bloating and reflux.
Vomiting and nausea are also vague indications of stomach cancer. Constant vomiting can damage the esophagus and can also lead to irregular metabolism. Dysphagia or difficult swallowing also occurs once the esophagus is damaged. The esophagus is a tube connected to the stomach and one of the first body parts to be infected once the cancer spreads outside the stomach.
Loss of appetite for two days is still considered normal or simply a sign of non-fatal infections such as fever. However, if the condition lasts longer, then it can already be a symptom of more serious illnesses such as stomach cancer. Losing about 5% of your weight in less than six months without any aim of dieting can also be considered serious. This may be due to irregular bowel movement and heightened loss of appetite due to stomach cancer. Irregular bowel movement may be characterized by constipation and diarrhea or alternation of both. Constant burping also signifies changes in the digestive function.
Heartburn and fatigue can be natural. However, experiencing these two even without engaging in strenuous activities is already a red flag. Heartburn can be caused by the irregular metabolism and clogging of acids in the lower esophagus. Prolonged fatigue, on the other hand, can be a side effect of anemia. People with stomach cancer experience anemia due to blood loss through vomiting or through stools. There are also some cases of blood clots within the lungs and the legs. These cause swelling of the legs and constant breathlessness accompanied by chest pains. Blood clotting usually occurs after hemorrhage anemia or profuse bleeding. Internal bleeding, especially in areas apart from the digestive tract, is already an indication of critical stomach cancer.
If you have any of these symptoms, it is best to seek medical assistance. Though these indications are vague, immediate diagnosis and treatment are necessary to prevent further complications of the sicknes