Honoring Stomach Cancer Awareness Month
Many Americans likely know someone who has or who has had some form of cancer. You might even be affected by this disease. Even though many know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, or other common types of cancer, stomach cancer is one type that can come about quickly and silently, and often isn’t diagnosed until it’s in the later stages. To raise awareness of this frequently silent but serious disease, November has been denoted as Stomach Cancer Awareness Month.
Below, you will find the information you need to know about stomach cancer so you can broaden your awareness of this condition and know where to start if you happen to find yourself dealing with it. In the event you or a family member has stomach cancer or are at an increased risk, please contact Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC to request a visit. Our group of experienced gastroenterologists in Hattiesburg, MS can help you get the expert care you need.
How does stomach cancer develop?
The condition of stomach cancer, also referred to as gastric cancer, impacts about 30,000 people across the United States annually. The disease forms when the cells within the stomach begin to proliferate uncontrollably. Gastric cancer commonly develops over the course of several years and initiates with premalignant growths in the stomach lining. These changes commonly occur without detection as they don’t generally present any associated signs or symptoms.
Given that screening for gastric cancer does not occur as commonly as colorectal cancer, this disease might often go unnoticed until the condition has spread or grown quite large. At this stage, individuals will generally begin to experience signs or symptoms.
What are the common signs and symptoms of stomach cancer?
As the condition progresses, there are many common stomach cancer signs and symptoms that may arise. These include:
- Poor appetite
- A feeling of fullness even after consuming a small meal
- Weakness or fatigue
- Blood in the stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting and/or nausea
- Heartburn symptoms/abdominal discomfort
Should you experience any of these stomach cancer symptoms, our skilled Hattiesburg, MS gastroenterologists can help. Please contact our team at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC to visit a provider.
What are the risk factors for stomach cancer?
Per the American Cancer Society® (ACS), the average age of an individual diagnosed with stomach cancer is 68, and approximately 60% of those who receive a stomach cancer diagnosis are above the age of 65.
There are an array of other things that heighten a person's risk of having stomach cancer beyond age. These include:
- Gender (more prevalent among men)
- Occupation (more prevalent in those who are employed in the metal, rubber, or coal industries)
- Weight (more prevalent among overweight or obese people)
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Diet (more common in those who eat a high-salt diet or a lot of processed foods)
- Previous stomach problems (such as stomach ulcers, reflux, polyps, or Menetrier disease)
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Ethnicity (more prevalent in African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian/Pacific people)
- Location (more common in those from South American, Central America, Eastern Europe, and East Asia)
How is stomach cancer treated?
Should you or someone you love become diagnosed with stomach cancer, our Hattiesburg, MS gastrointestinal doctors can develop an individualized treatment strategy to address the form, stage, and spread of the condition.
The treatment protocols we may consider involve chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, or other services. Our doctors will also take your overall health, age, and additional factors into account when developing this treatment strategy.
Is there a way to avoid stomach cancer?
Although there is no infallible method to prevent the development of gastric cancer, there are things you can do to lessen your risks. These include:
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a well-balanced diet filled with fresh fruits (especially citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges) and veggies, limited processed or red meats, and whole grains
- Avoiding tobacco use
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Raising awareness is the first step in preventing stomach cancer
At Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC, we aim to help you and your loved ones live happy, healthy lives for as long as possible. While we are always here for your digestive health concerns, our team is passionate about offering the information required to potentially prevent certain digestive conditions and issues. Since Stomach Cancer Awareness Month is upon us, now is the ideal time to take action. Schedule a visit with our Hattiesburg, MS gastroenterology specialists to learn if you are at risk for gastric cancer and how you might protect your health.