Acid Reflux Disease or Gastric Cancer?
We all hope that our reflux problems are no more than a minor problem associated with too much food or alcahol, but there is always the underlying danger of stomach cancer.
The biggest diagnostic problem that we encounter, is caused by symptoms that ofter arrive late due to the large capacity of the stomach.
If you tend to feel bloated after eating only a small amount of food, an upper gastrointestional endoscopy is an option for ruling out cancer that may be lurking.
Other symptoms of stomach cancer include burning heartburn or indigestion. This is common terminology for acid reflux or GERD.
Nausea and vomiting may also be evident, as well as loss of appetite. Fatigue, weakness and abdominal pain are other indicators, and the passing of blood in vomit or urine should not go unchecked.
If you do encounter any of the above symptoms, do not panic, as they are also typical of a diverse range of gastrointestional conditions and not necessarily present due to cancer.
The most obvious early warning of gastric or stomach cancer is the presence of blood in vomit or stools, however it is not always this simple as these symptoms are not always present. To further complicate matters, bleeding may be caused by ulcers or Gastritis rather than cancer.
If any internal bleeding is evident, a colonoscopy should follow. Unfortunately, negative results are not always conclusive, and an upper endoscopic exploration is suggested to ensure that no cancer is present
Diet is of course a factor in gastric or stomach cancer. The highest incidence of stomach cancer is in people who have a diet high in foods which are preserved by drying, salting, pickling or smoking.
Avoid pickled vegetables, smoked meat and excessively salty food. Processed meat products are another cause, with the hot dog being of obvious concern. Charcoal broiled foods are known to produce nitrosamines which have also been linked to cancer.
People who have had gastric atrophy which weakens the stomach muscles are also at increased risk. Note that it also results in shrinkage of the peptic glands which in turn leads to a smaller amount of digestive juices.
I probably do not need to tell you that smoking is another link, as well as dust and workplace fumes.
H. pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium known to cause stomach inflammation and ulcers has also been shown in some studies to be a risk factor in stomach cancer.
If cancer is diagnosed, a CT or ultrasound will be used to stage the cancer by indicating its spread throughout the body. Stages range from a primary tumor to tumors that invade the stomach wall muscle or adjacent structures.