GI Health | Stomach Cancer
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Information and Diagnosis

What is Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is a cancer that starts in the stomach and can spread to other parts of the body. Stomach cancers develop slowly over the course of many years. Before cancer develops, pre-cancerous changes often occur in the inner lining of the stomach. These early changes rarely cause symptoms and therefore often go undetected. H. pylori bacterial infection in the stomach is a common cause of developing stomach cancer.

Symptoms of stomach cancer

Stomach cancer rarely reveals itself through symptoms early in its development. Therefore, there is no true preventative screening like there is for colon cancer, except for checking for H. pylori. Some common GI symptoms though, may be a sign of stomach cancer, including:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel
  • A feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen after eating a small meal
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)

Diagnosis

If patients have symptoms, an upper endoscopy will be performed while the patient is under sedation to evaluate the stomach and look for abnormalities. While there are no preventiative tests for stomach cancer, diagnosing and treating H. Pylori can help stop stomach cancer from forming.

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