Bloating is a condition where a person’s stomach feels full and tense. In most cases, it is caused by overeating or symptoms of digestive problems and gas build-up in the stomach and intestines. However, if bloating persists or occurs for no apparent reason, it may be a sign of a health problem, such as inflammatory bowel disease, ascites, tuberculosis, and cancer of abdominal organs such as the stomach, intestines, and ovaries.
In an interaction with Zee News English, Dr. Upasana Saxena, radiation oncology specialist at HCG Cancer Center Borivali, shares the common symptoms and indicators of stomach cancer that can often be mistaken for common symptoms.
Dr. Upsana says, “Although bloating does not always indicate cancer, it is an indicator to evaluate and find the cause of the pathology.
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. Dr. Upsana shares the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer
Frequent heartburn: Heartburn occurs when stomach acid goes up into the esophagus. Although heartburn can be caused by a variety of factors, it is usually recognized by an intense burning sensation behind the breastbone and upper chest. It is associated with cancer/acidity/reflux/ulcers.
Persistent abdominal pain: A vague, unexplained, but chronic abdominal pain may be a symptom of stomach cancer. If you have pain that does not go away in a few days or worsens over time, it is best to consult a doctor.
Other signs and symptoms of stomach cancer include feeling full after eating small meals, indigestion, frequent bloating, loss of appetite and extreme fatigue. In the later stages, there are obvious symptoms of stomach cancer including blood in the stool, a lump at the top of the stomach, nausea and vomiting, swelling or fluid accumulation in and around your abdomen, unexplained weight loss and jaundice (a sign that the cancer has spread to the liver ).
When to consult a doctor or oncologist?
Dr. Upsana recommends, “Since stomach cancer is not common, it is not routinely screened, due to which cases are detected at a late stage.
Additionally, since many of the symptoms of stomach cancer overlap with other conditions, it is best to consult a specialist to rule out cancer.”
How is stomach cancer treated?
In most cases, stomach cancer treatment varies from patient to patient, depending on the stage of the cancer, their overall health status, and treatment preferences. These include the following:
Upper endoscopy: It can be used to obtain a biopsy or to remove a non-invasive lesion. Once cancer is diagnosed, a patient has to undergo appropriate surgery.
Gastrectomy: Partial or total gastrectomy is the mainstay of gastric cancer treatment. This can be done directly or after giving chemotherapy. Appropriate sequence of treatments is important to obtain good treatment results. After surgery, additional chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be required depending on the patient’s report and the stage of the disease.
Is Stomach Cancer Preventable?
Although it is not possible to eliminate the risk factors associated with stomach cancer, certain steps can help reduce the risk of this condition.
Some lifestyle steps that can help in this direction include:
– Control your body weight: Being overweight or obese can significantly increase the risk of stomach cancer.
– Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables: Foods rich in essential nutrients, fiber and vitamins help keep the body healthy and fight many diseases.
– Reduce intake of processed foods: pickled vegetables, salted meat and fish and fried foods, when consumed regularly, can significantly increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Good lifestyle habits such as avoiding smoking and alcohol can effectively help reduce the risk of stomach cancer.