November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month
Many people likely know at least one person who is diagnosed with or who has experienced cancer. You may even be living with this disease. While the signs of breast cancer, skin cancer, or other common cancers are easy to detect, stomach cancer is one form that can come about quickly and quietly, and commonly isn’t diagnosed until the more advanced stages. In an effort to bring awareness to this commonly silent disease, November has been designated as Stomach Cancer Awareness Month.
Continue reading to learn helpful information to know about stomach cancer so you can have a heightened awareness of this disease and know what to do if you ever find yourself battling it. If you or a family member has stomach cancer or are at a higher risk, get in touch with GastroArkansas to request an appointment. Our board-certified gastroenterologists in Little Rock, AR can help you get the necessary care.
What, exactly, is stomach cancer?
The condition of stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, impacts the lives of about 30,000 individuals in the United States annually. It forms when the cells located in the stomach begin to grow beyond control. It commonly develops over several years and starts with precancerous growths within the stomach lining. These developments commonly occur without detection since they don’t typically carry any associated signs or symptoms.
Given that assessing for gastric cancer does not occur as commonly as colon and rectal cancer, it might often go undetected until the condition has grown quite large or advanced. When this stage occurs, people will most likely start to have symptoms.
What are the common symptoms of stomach cancer?
As the disease advances, there are an array of common gastric cancer symptoms that may occur, such as:
- Blood in the stool
- Decreased appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Fatigue or weakness
- A feeling of fullness even after having a small meal
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Heartburn symptoms/abdominal discomfort
Should you or someone you love experience any of these stomach cancer symptoms, our skilled Little Rock, AR gastroenterologists can help. Please contact our team at GastroArkansas to visit a provider.
What are the risk factors for gastric cancer?
As indicated by the American Cancer Society®, the average age of a person diagnosed with stomach cancer is 68. Furthermore, about 60% of those diagnosed are over 65.
There are many additional factors that elevate an individual's chance of having gastric cancer outside of age. These include:
- Family history
- Previous stomach conditions (such as stomach ulcers, reflux, polyps, or Menetrier disease)
- Ethnicity (more common among Hispanic, African American, Native American, and Asian/Pacific people)
- Diet (more prevalent in people who consume a high-salt diet or a large quantity of processed food items)
- Weight (more prevalent among obese or overweight individuals)
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Gender (more prevalent among men)
- Geographic location (more common among those from South American, Central America, Eastern Europe, and East Asia)
- Occupation (more common among individuals who are employed in the rubber, metal, or coal industries)
How is gastric cancer treated?
Should you or a family member get diagnosed with stomach cancer, our Little Rock, AR gastrointestinal (GI) doctors can create an individualized gastric cancer treatment strategy based on the form, stage, and spread of the condition.
Some plans we may recommend include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and more. Our team will also take your general health, age, and additional information into consideration when creating your treatment strategy.
Can I avoid gastric cancer?
Although there is no unfailing method to prevent the occurrence of gastric cancer, there are some things you can do to lessen the risks, including:
- Getting regular exercise
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Consuming a balanced diet filled with fresh fruits (especially citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons) and vegetables, whole grains, and limited processed or red meats
- Not smoking
Awareness is the first step in stomach cancer prevention
At GastroArkansas, we strive to help those we are privileged to treat experience healthy, happy lives for as long as possible. Though we are devoted to addressing your gastrointestinal needs, our providers are passionate about providing the information you need to potentially prevent certain GI concerns and diseases. Since Stomach Cancer Awareness Month is upon us, now is the time to be proactive. Request an appointment with our Little Rock, AR gastroenterology team to learn if you are at risk for gastric cancer and how you might protect your GI health.