November Is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month
Many individuals likely know someone who is diagnosed with or who has experienced some form of cancer. You may even be affected by the disease. Even though a number of individuals know the indications of skin cancer or other common types of cancer, stomach cancer can come about silently and quickly, and frequently isn’t noticed until it’s in the more advanced stages. In an effort to raise awareness of this often silent but serious disease, November has been designated as Stomach Cancer Awareness Month.
Read on to learn helpful information you should understand about stomach cancer so you may have a heightened awareness and know what to do if you ever find yourself battling this disease. In the event you or someone you love has stomach cancer or are at greater risk, please contact GI Alliance to request an appointment. Our group of experienced gastroenterologists can help you receive the expert care you require.
What is stomach cancer?
The condition of stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is diagnosed in about 30,000 people across the United States annually. It develops when the cells in the stomach begin to proliferate uncontrollably. It frequently develops over several years and initiates with premalignant growths in the lining of the stomach. Such developments may go undetected because they don’t usually present any associated indications.
As evaluation for gastric cancer does not occur as commonly as colorectal cancer, this disease may often go unnoticed until it has metastasized or grown quite large. At this stage, people will generally begin to present with signs or symptoms.
What are the signs of gastric cancer?
As it advances, there are several common stomach cancer signs and symptoms that may occur, including:
- Feeling full even after eating a small meal
- Bloody stool
- Poor appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Unintentional weight loss
- Fatigue or weakness
- Heartburn symptoms/abdominal discomfort
If you or a family member has any of these stomach cancer symptoms, our skilled gastroenterologists can help. Please contact our team at GI Alliance to visit a provider.
Who is at risk of stomach cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society®, the average age of an individual diagnosed with stomach cancer is 68 — and approximately 60% of those who receive a stomach cancer diagnosis are older than 65 years of age.
There are an array of additional factors that impact an individual's risk of developing gastric cancer apart from their age, however. These include:
- Gender (more prevalent in males)
- Occupation (more common in individuals who are employed in the coal, rubber, or metal industries)
- Family history of gastric cancer
- Tobacco use and alcohol consumption
- Location (more common among those from East Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, and Central America)
- Weight (more common among overweight or obese individuals)
- Diet (more common among people who consume a high-sodium diet or a large quantity of processed food items)
- Previous stomach issues (such as stomach ulcers, polyps, reflux, or Menetrier disease)
- Ethnicity (more prevalent among Asian/Pacific, Native American, African American, and Hispanic individuals)
How is stomach cancer treated?
If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with gastric cancer, our gastrointestinal specialists can create a dynamic treatment approach depending on the form, stage, and spread.
Types of treatment strategies we may advise include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or other services. We will also take your general health, age, and additional information into account when determining your treatment approach.
Can I avoid stomach cancer?
Even though there is no surefire way to prevent the development of stomach cancer, there are some things you can incorporate to lower your risks, including:
- Avoiding tobacco use
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a balanced diet containing plenty of fresh fruits (particularly citrus fruits, like oranges and lemons) and vegetables, limited processed or red meats, and whole grains
Raising awareness is the first step in preventing stomach cancer
At GI Alliance, our goal is to help all patients experience happy, healthy lives now and in the future. Though we are always here for your digestive health concerns, our providers are passionate about offering the essential information required to potentially prevent certain gastrointestinal conditions and issues. Since Stomach Cancer Awareness Month is upon us, now is the perfect time to take action. Schedule a consultation with our digestive health team to determine your chances of developing gastric cancer and how you might protect your health and wellness.