Early detection can significantly increase stomach cancer survival rates. Patients who recognize symptoms of stomach cancer should consult with a physician immediately to assess the potential presence of cancer cells.
Many patients with stomach cancer experience mild or severe forms of indigestion during the early stages. Symptoms may include heartburn, slight nausea, a loss of appetite or a bloated feeling after meals. These symptoms are not exclusive to stomach cancer, but consistent symptoms of indigestion should prompt a consultation with a physician to determine the cause, especially if risk factors of stomach cancer exist. Common risk factors include a diet high in pickled, salty or smoked foods, smoking, type A blood, exposure to asbestos, and obesity.
As stomach tumors grow, some patients experience more serious symptoms that result in pain or discomfort. Stomach pain is the most common symptom. When accompanied by vomiting, weight loss for no reason or blood in the stool, patients should contact a physician for an overall health evaluation. Some patients also experience trouble swallowing, constipation or diarrhea, swelling in the stomach, or a yellow tint to the eyes or skin.
Patients with stomach cancer often experience chronic fatigue or exhaustion as a primary symptom. Although chronic fatigue is not the sole symptom of stomach cancer, it could be a sign that cancerous cells have developed in the lining of the stomach, causing fatigue and less energy. Physicians evaluate patients for stomach cancer by conducting a medical exam, an assessment of all symptoms and an evaluation of risk factors present.
An upper endoscopy is the primary test used to detect stomach cancer. This procedure involves passing a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a camera down the throat to capture images of the lining of the esophagus, small intestines and stomach. If abnormal areas are present, physicians typically take a tissue sample for a biopsy to determine if cancerous cells are in the lining of the stomach. In some cases, physicians conduct an endoscopic ultrasound to confirm the presence of cancer in the stomach.
Stomach cancer begins in the stomach and slowly develops over several years. Symptoms of stomach cancer occur as pre-cancerous cells cause changes in the inner lining of the stomach. Patients who recognize many of the symptoms and seek treatment in the early stages can increase their rate of survival.
Treatment options include targeted medication such as chemotherapy. The medication fights cancer cells, killing them or preventing them from spreading. Radiation treatment involves using an X-ray to beam high-energy particles or waves to the cancer site to shrink tumors or kill cancer cells. In extreme cases, physicians may need to remove tissues near the stomach or a part of the stomach to remove the tumor or cancer cells.