Stomach Cancer Awareness Month: How to recognise warning signs of gastric cancer

Stomach Cancer Awareness Month 2021: Stomach cancer or Gastric cancer is not very easy to diagnose as it develops slowly over the years and people do not showcase any symptoms in earlier stages. Apart from family history and genetic predisposition, people who consume less fruits and vegetables and more of salty and smoked stuff are at risk.

Only less than 20 per cent of patients with stomach cancer in our country are diagnosed at an early stage, 50 per cent unfortunately will have locally advanced disease while 25-30% have widespread or metastatic disease. November is considered Gastric Cancer Awareness Month that aims at spreading awareness about this deadly disease which is the third most common cancer in men in India and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among Indian men and women between the age of 15 and 44.

Dr. Krunal Khobragade, Consultant – Surgical Oncology, HCG NCHRI Cancer Hospital Nagpur talks about stomach cancer or gastric cancer, its symptoms and risk factors.

ALSO READ: If you suffer from heartburn, indigestion, beware! It could indicate stomach cancer

What is stomach cancer or gastric cancer

“Understanding stomach cancer helps to know about the normal structure and function of the stomach. The stomach region consists of 5 parts: cardia, fundus, body (corpus), antrum, and pylorus. The first 3 parts of the stomach (cardia, fundus, and body) are called the proximal stomach. The lower 2 parts (antrum and pylorus) are known as the distal stomach. Antrum/distal gastric cancer is the commonest in the Indian population,” says Dr Khobragade.

Before stomach cancer develops, there are pre-cancerous changes that often occur in the inner lining (mucosa) of the stomach. These early changes rarely showcase the symptoms and therefore goes undetected.

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer or Gastric Cancer

“Cancers originating in different areas of the stomach may cause different symptoms and tend to have various other outcomes. Treatment options are affected depending on where the cancer cells are located,” says Dr Khobragade.

Here are the symptoms you should watch out for:

* Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia)

* Feeling bloated or full after eating small amount of food

* Baffling discomfort in the abdomen region, usually above the navel

* Severe, persistent heartburn or indigestion

* Unexplained, persistent nausea

* Stomach ache

* Persistent vomiting with or without blood

* Unintentional weight loss

* Fatigue

* Constipation

* Dark stools due to the presence of altered blood

* Swelling in the abdomen

Gastric cancer: Tips for prevention

– Being overweight or obese increases the risk of stomach cancer. Working out regularly also helps in lowering the risk of stomach cancer.

– A diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables prevents the risk of stomach cancer risk. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit may be helpful.

– Alcohol use usually increases the risk of stomach cancer, so avoiding or limiting the consumption of alcohol lowers the risk.

Treating H pylori infection: Some early studies have suggested that administering antibiotics to people with H pylori infection might lower the number of pre-cancerous lesions in the stomach and reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

For people with high genetic risk can consult a genetics professional on getting a genetic testing done.

“Early diagnosis is key to improve the outlook for stomach cancer. One might want to consider getting a screening test if you believe you are at risk for developing stomach cancer. The chances of recovery are better if the diagnosis is made in an early stage. Consult doctor if you see any of the symptoms. Diagnosing at an early stage will help in better treatment outcomes,” says the expert.

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Anjali Singh

Anjali Singh Born on 15 Jun 2001 an Indian author and activist from Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh. Live in New Delhi