November is recognized as Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. How much do you
know about this condition that impacts more than 26,000 Americans each year?
Stomach cancer, which is also called “gastric” cancer, is relatively rare
compared with some of the more well-known types of cancer. But it’s
still diagnosed in thousands of Americans each year, particularly among
Because there’s no screening for stomach cancer, it’s a good
idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of the condition, so you
can seek medical attention if you experience them. Let’s take a
look at symptoms and some other facts about this condition.
Defining Stomach Cancer
First things first, let’s define what stomach cancer is. This type
of cancer impacts one of the
five parts of the stomach—the cardia, the fundus, the body, the antrum, or the pylorus.
In addition to the parts of the stomach, it also has multiple
layers, and the severity of stomach cancer is determined based on what layers
it is impacting.
Stomach cancer usually develops slowly, with precancerous changes first
occurring in the inner lining of the stomach.
There are multiple types of stomach cancer, including:
- Adenocarcinoma, which accounts for up to 95 percent of stomach cancer
- Lymphoma, which is a cancer of the immune system tissue that affects the
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor, a rare type of cancer impacting cells in
the wall of the stomach
- Carcinoid tumor, which starts in the hormone-making cells of the stomach
Who’s at Risk of Stomach Cancer?
While anyone can develop stomach cancer, certain populations are at an
increased risk. This includes:
- Those age 60 and older
- Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, or Native Americans
Anyone who has been infected with the
Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- Those who are obese or overweight
Those with a diet that consists of large quantities of smoked foods, salted
fish and meat, and pickled vegetables are also at a higher risk of developing
Symptoms to Watch For
In most cases, early-stage stomach cancer has few, if any, noticeable symptoms.
But any of the following symptoms, particularly if persistent, merit medical
- Weight loss without explanation
- Abdominal pain or discomfort just above the belly button
- A sense of fullness even after eating something light
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Diminished appetite
- Blood in the stool
- Heartburn or indigestion
Because most of these symptoms also occur with less serious conditions,
they may be overlooked or ignored. But if the symptom doesn’t go
away or worsens, talk with your doctor.
If you or a loved one are diagnosed with stomach cancer,
Saint Francis Healthcare Hematology-Medical Oncology can provide the personalized touch and advanced cancer-fighting tools
you need. Call 302.421.4860 to learn more.