The Early Signs of Stomach Cancer
Although most patients with early stage stomach cancer have no symptoms, those who do may mistake their symptoms for common stomach viruses. When signs and symptoms aren’t apparent or go ignored, the disease generally reaches more advanced stages before being properly diagnosed.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
It is important for patients who are at a high risk of developing stomach cancer, such as those with a helicobacter pylori infection (a bacterial infection in the digestive tract), to consult their doctors when it comes to potential symptoms. Early signs of stomach cancer may include:
- Nausea and vomiting: Especially regurgitating solid food shortly after eating. Vomit can sometimes contain blood.
- Feeling full after eating a small amount (early satiety): Many cancer patients experience the feeling of ‘fullness’ in their upper abdomen after eating small amounts of food.
- Bloody stools: Some patients experience rectal bleeding, which can be detected by noticing black, tar-looking blood in their stool, toilet bowl or on their toilet paper. This indicates bleeding from the stomach or upper portion of the small intestine.
- Unexplained weight loss: Patients may experience a lack of appetite and sudden or unexplained weight loss.
- Stomach pain: Abdominal pain or discomfort above the navel may be a sign of a stomach tumor. Swelling and fluid build up in the abdomen also can be caused by stomach cancer.
Testing For Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer is usually discovered when someone goes to the doctor after noticing some of the symptoms shared above. To confirm the diagnosis, the following tests can be administered:
- Upper endoscopy
- Endoscopic ultrasound
- Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series
- Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
- Chest X-ray
Early detection is important when it comes to determining treatment options. Knowing the location and stage of stomach cancer can help doctors decide which treatments may be the most appropriate.
Although there is no way to completely prevent stomach cancer, these are some ways to lower your risk of developing it:
- Avoid foods that have been preserved through salting, pickling and/or smoking.
- The American Cancer Society suggests a diet that is high in plant-based foods. This includes at least two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Eating whole grains, fish and poultry also can help lower your risk of developing stomach cancer.
At Southwest General Medical Group, Inc., our primary and specialty care physicians are committed to working closely so that you can fully understand your risks of developing stomach cancer. To learn more about our services or schedule an appointment, visit our website.