Stomach Cancer? What you need to know!

November is a month known for the pleasure of eating. November is also a Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. However, raising awareness about stomach cancer is important throughout the year!

There is a great deal of focus on food, nourishment, and family during these holidays and is the ideal month to raise awareness about Gastric Cancer.

The goals of stomach cancer awareness are to raise awareness and support efforts to educate people about stomach cancer, including risk factors, prevention, and early detection

What is Stomach Cancer ?

In 90-95% of cases, the disease starts in the cells that form the lining of the stomach – beginning as an ulcer. The initial symptoms of stomach cancer are vague and easy to mistake for other less serious conditions. In some people, the lesion may cause no symptoms; in others, it might bleed or cause pain. Stomach cancer is often discovered at an advanced stage. Often people ask us if you can survive stomach cancer. Survival depends on how advanced the cancer is and if it has travelled to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Many patients diagnosed with stomach cancer can be cured.

Who’s affected ?

The exact cause of stomach cancer is still unclear, although you’re more likely to develop it if you:

•  Long-term stomach inflammation (gastritis)
•  Are 55 years of age or older
•  Smokers
•  Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
•  Obese
•  A diet low in fruits and vegetables
•  Have a diet low in fibre and high in processed food or red meat
•  Have a diet that contains a lot of salted and pickled foods
•  Have a stomach infection caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria 
•  Family history of stomach cancer

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Cancer?

The initial symptoms of stomach cancer are vague and easy to mistake for other less serious conditions. They include:

•  Persistent indigestion and heartburn
•  Trapped wind and frequent burping
•  Feeling very full or bloated after meals
•  Persistent stomach pain
•  Blood in your stools, or black stools
•  Loss of appetite
•  Weight loss

Can Stomach Cancer Be Cured ?

Surgery is the best chance for curing stomach cancer. Left untreated, cancer can spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymphatic system (a network of vessels and glands called lymph nodes located throughout the body).

Once the cancer reaches your lymphatic system, it’s capable of spreading to other parts of your body, including your blood, bones and organs. So early consultation with your Gastroenterologist will help in early diagnosis and treatment.

Prevention of Stomach Cancer: 

 Gastroenterologist at VS Hospitals recommends that those looking to reduce their risk for stomach cancer follow these guidelines:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a diet filled with fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce the amount of salty and smoked foods. A diet rich in pickled vegetables, such as pickled onions, salted fish, salt in general and smoked meats, such as smoked beef, increases your risk of stomach cancer. A high fibre diet with five portions of fruit and vegetables a day will help protect against stomach cancer
  • Avoid smoking. People who smoke are about twice as likely to develop stomach cancer compared with non-smokers.
  • You’re more likely to develop stomach cancer if you have a close relative with the condition, such as one of your parents or a sibling (brother or sister). In such cases, it may be appropriate for your doctor to arrange genetic counselling.

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