There are several symptoms of stomach cancer but these symptoms are also experienced when folk have other, less serious conditions such as gastritis and peptic ulcers.
According to the main medical websites, early stomach cancer symptoms may include:
- Persistent indigestion
- Trapped wind
- Frequent belching and burping
- Heartburn and acid reflux-type symptoms
- Full feeling that quickly develops upon eating
- Stomach pain
- Lump in throat or difficulty swallowing
- Feeling nauseous and sick
- Vomiting (which may contain blood)
The symptoms of peptic ulcers and H pylori infection are basically the same as those listed above. Likewise, the symptoms of other chronic digestive infections, gluten sensitivity and food allergies can mimic stomach cancer symptoms. Interestingly:
- Research indicates that 1-3% of people infected with H pylori will go on to develop stomach cancer.
- According to the European Helicobacter Study Group, H pylori infection is the number one risk for stomach cancer.
- The World Health Organization classifies H pylori as a class I carcinogen, which places it in the same category as asbestos and cigarette smoking for lung cancer.
This is scary stuff.
Stomach Cancer “Alarm” Symptoms
Doctors will specifically suspect stomach cancer is you experience difficult swallowing and/or have indigestion in combination with one or more of the following:
- Weight loss
- Being sick frequently
- Anemia (a reduction in red blood cells, which can result in feelings of fatigue and shortness of breath)
- Yellowing of your eyes and skin (jaundice)
- A swollen mass in your upper abdomen
These symptoms are considered to be even more important in people who are over 55. Other factors considered important when considering stomach cancer symptoms include:
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Previous surgery for peptic ulcers
- Barrett’s Esophagus – where abnormal cells begin to develop on the inner lining of the esophagus, or “food pipe”
- Pernicious anemia – a condition where vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed properly due to stomach damage
- Dysplasia – an abnormal collection of cells that are not actually cancerous but could turn cancerous at a later date
- Gastritis – this is inflammation of the stomach lining
Advanced Stomach Cancer Symptoms
The symptoms of more advanced stomach cancer may include:
- Blood in your stools, or black stools
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Lumpiness in your stomach (caused by a build-up of fluid)
Again, some of these stomach cancer symptoms tend to be quite common in the population and may not necessarily indicate stomach cancer.
Atrophic gastritis is a common disorder in people aged over 60. The stomach lining is gradually worn away, or degraded, by chronic infections such as H pylori as well as other factors.
Atrophic gastritis is known to be a risk factor for stomach cancer and can be identified through endoscopy.
It is important to get any possible symptoms of stomach cancer checked out as soon as possible – only a medical doctor or gastro specialist can diagnose stomach cancer.
Remember that H pylori infection is a major risk factor for stomach cancer. This is one of the reasons why it must be tested if you have persistent digestive symptoms and why it must be treated if it is detected.
As always, I hope you found this article helpful.