Stomach Cancer – The Basics
Stomach cancer is a disease in which tumors are found in the stomach. If it is not diagnosed quickly, it may spread to other parts of your stomach as well as to other organs. Research indicates that more than 25,000 Americans are diagnosed with stomach cancer every year. Also, more than 13,000 Americans die from this disease annually. There are twice as many males with this disease than females. The majority of people with stomach cancer are between fifty and seventy years old. It is more prevalent in Japan, Korea, Great Britain, South America and Iceland than in the United States.
There are ten times as many cases in Japan than in the United States. Contrary to these other countries, the number of cases in the United States has decreased over time. The precise cause of stomach cancer has so far eluded researchers. But risk factors have been identified that will increase your chances of developing this disease. Research has shown that diets high in salt and nitrites can increase your chances of developing stomach cancer. There are a smaller number of cases among native Japanese people who moved to the United States and adopted the diets of Americans in comparison to those who stayed in Japan and continued with the Japanese diet. There are a high number of cases among people who work as coal miners or who work processing timber, nickel and rubber. People who are exposed to the bacterium Helicobacter pylori have developed lymphomas in the stomach.
Polyps (benign growths) that develop in your stomach have the potential to become cancerous. Other risk factors include a family history of the disease, stomach surgery for ulcers and pernicious anemia. If you want to lower your chances of developing this disease, you can try avoiding some of these risk factors. You can also try adding fruits and vegetables to your diet. The American Cancer Society recommends that you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
During the early stages of stomach cancer, you should expect to see either no symptoms at all or very nonspecific symptoms. Some of these symptoms include indigestion, heartburn, mild discomfort and mild nausea. In the early stages, the tumor is small and has not spread (metastasized). In the late stages, the symptoms are more distinct and include abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and blood in the stool. By the time these distinct symptoms occur, the cancer can metastasize to other organs in the body, such as the esophagus, lungs, lymph nodes, liver, small intestine or colon. Unfortunately, this occurs to eight to ninety percent of stomach cancer patients.
This is one of the reasons for its poor prognosis. Patients who are diagnosed in the early stages have a seventy five percent chance of surviving for at least five years and those who are diagnosed in the late stages have a less than thirty percent chance. A stomach virus or ulcer can also cause some of these symptoms. If you think that you have might have some of these symptoms, you should see a gastroenterologist or an oncologist immediately to get the correct diagnosis.