Is It Just a Stomachache or Something More? How To Recognize the Warning Signs of Stomach Cancer

Did you know that more than 7 in 100,000 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer each year and that 3 in 100,000 people will die from it? On this World Cancer Day, we’d like to take a look at this type of cancer and give you some information on how to help detect it. After all, stomach cancer is often overlooked as just a stomach ache, which can lead to a delayed diagnosis, and early detection is key. While stomachaches can usually be written off as a virus or just something you ate, if you’re experiencing symptoms that are unusual for you, like bloating or heartburn, it’s important to get checked, because these are some of the early signs of stomach cancer. So when should you talk to your doctor?

What Is Stomach Cancer?

Also called gastric cancer, stomach cancer develops when healthy cells are replaced by growing cancer cells within the stomach lining. Before this happens, pre-cancerous cells begin to change in the inner lining of the stomach, or mucosa, and eventually, as more and more cancerous cells grow, they will form into a tumor. This process usually takes a long time: stomach cancer can even take years to develop and grow. Depending on where cancer starts in the stomach, it can cause different symptoms, and require different types of treatments.

The Different Types of Stomach Cancer

illustration of a stomach
The most common type of stomach cancer begins in the innermost lining of the stomach.

There are many kinds of stomach cancers because there are so many layers of the stomach:

  1. Adenocarcinoma- This is the most common type of stomach cancer, in which cancer begins and grows in the innermost lining of the stomach.
  2. Lymphoma– This cancer starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes and develops from cells in your immune system.
  3. Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor– This is a kind of soft tissue sarcoma that can grow in the stomach wall.
  4. Neuroendocrine cancer– This is a rare, slow-growing tumor that grows from the neuroendocrine cells of the stomach.

Risk Factors

The most common cause of stomach cancer is a common bacteria that causes stomach infections and ulcers: H. pylori bacteria; tumors, stomach polyps, or acid reflux can also be the culprit. In addition, there are other factors that can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer, including:

  • Being male
  • Being older
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Having Type A blood
  • Previous stomach surgery
  • Family history
  • A diet high in smoked foods, salted fish, or cured meats

The Warning Signs

Stomach cancer can grow unnoticed for many years, because there are often no warning signs in the early stages – but there are some early symptoms to be on the lookout for. Unfortunately, these are often things that can seem fairly normal, so early detection can be tricky. With that being said,  if you experience any of the following on a regular basis, get checked!

  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in appetite

You should also talk to your doctor if you:illustration of a person holding out a large pair of pants over their waist

  • Unexpectedly lose a lot of weight
  • Are extremely fatigued
  • Feel full after eating very little
  • Have blood in your vomit or stool
  • Become anemic
  • Experience swelling in the abdomen 

The best way to detect stomach cancer early is to talk to your doctor if you feel like something is wrong. You know your body better than anyone, so trust your gut!

Stomach Cancer Prevention & Treatment

A healthier lifestyle is the best way to help prevent stomach cancer: a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help decrease your risk. And if you are diagnosed with stomach cancer, don’t worry, there are several treatment options to help you beat it, including radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and targeted therapy.

Stomach cancer can be fatal if you don’t detect it early and treat it in time. But if found, it can be treated, so stay on top of your health and speak to your doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary. 

Anything related to cancer can be scary and expensive, especially if you don’t have adequate health insurance to cover the tests required for diagnosis and the subsequent treatments you’ll have to undergo. If you need a better plan, come to EZ: we’ll compare plans in your area at no cost to you, and find a plan that offers you the coverage you need at an affordable price. Our agent will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision on your health insurance plan. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to an agent, call 888-350-1890.

About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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