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Stomach cancer symptoms: What are the signs?

27 marzo, 2024

Read our blog to discover the stomach cancer symptoms. We discuss symptoms at both an early and late stage, as well as risk factors for stomach cancer.

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is cancer found anywhere in the stomach or stomach wall. It’s quite rare in the UK; Approximately 1 in 10,000 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer. Read on to learn the symptoms of stomach cancer.

What is stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer begins when stomach cells grow out of control. It can form anywhere in the stomach, but most commonly affects the inner lining of the stomach.

It can also start in the stomach wall (gastrointestinal stromal tumors – GIST), the immune system cells of the stomach (non-Hodgkins lymphoma), and the hormone cells of the stomach (neuroendocrine cancers).

Unfortunately, the symptoms of early-stage stomach cancer are usually minor at best. Therefore, it is usually diagnosed at stages 3 and 4. People do not have symptoms until these stages, which can make it more difficult to know that something is wrong.

There are 5 stages of stomach cancer: stages 0 to 4. Stomach cancer can take years to develop, as it tends to be a slow-growing cancer .

What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?

Most stomach cancer symptoms are also signs of something else, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), especially the early signs. That’s why we recommend talking to your doctor about any new symptoms rather than trying to self-diagnose them.

We understand that new symptoms affecting your stomach may be worrying and may affect your daily life. If you think your doctor has missed something, we offer a second opinion service.

stomach cancer symptoms

Early warning signs of stomach cancer

Early signs of gastric cancer, such as feeling sick or unwell, are common and are usually not due to stomach cancer. However, if you notice the following symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Feel full

You may feel full soon after eating, even with small meals. This fullness may last longer than the usual feeling of being full and may be uncomfortable.

Heartburn or acid reflux

This feels like a burning sensation in the chest and is due to increased stomach acid. Additionally, people often experience cough, hoarse voice, and bad breath.

Indigestion (dyspepsia)

Indigestion occurs when your body has difficulty digesting food. Symptoms include burping a lot after eating and feeling bloated in the upper abdomen.

Stomachache

You may feel discomfort in your stomach and pain in your upper abdomen. It is usually above the belly button (navel area). You may also experience pain behind your breastbone.

Signs of advanced stomach cancer

Advanced stomach cancer means it has spread to other parts of the body. Read on to learn the signs of advanced cancer.

Weightloss

Unexplained or unintentional weight loss can be a sign of advanced cancer, although this is not usually the cause. You may also have a poor appetite, which means you may be eating less than usual. If you experience unintentional weight loss, you should talk to your doctor about the possible cause.

Bleeding and blood in the stool.

You may experience bleeding with early and advanced cancer. Over time, this can lead to anemia (a reduced number of red blood cells). If you have anemia, you may feel tired and short of breath. In rare cases, you may have blood in your vomit.

Another sign that your stomach might be bleeding is finding blood in your stool (poop). Their stools may be dark, almost black. Dark stools may also occur if you are taking iron tablets.

Vomiting

Feeling sick (nausea) and being sick (vomiting) can be a sign of early or advanced stomach cancer. In the early stages of stomach cancer, you may feel sick without vomiting.

You may vomit if you have a blockage in your stomach that prevents food from passing through your digestive system.

Difficulty to swallow

Swallowing problems are called dysphagia. Stomach cancer can cause difficulty swallowing when a tumor blocks or narrows the esophagus.

Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes. If you experience jaundice with stomach cancer, it is a sign that it has spread to the liver.

Without a diagnosis of stomach cancer, this would normally indicate a problem with the liver. You may also have itchy skin, dark urine, and pale stools. Seek urgent care if you experience these symptoms.

If you suspect you have symptoms of stomach cancer, talk to a doctor for advice. You may be referred for tests for stomach cancer.

How do we test for stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer is usually in an advanced stage at the time of diagnosis. That’s why you should talk to a doctor about any worrying symptoms. Although they are not normally due to stomach cancer, it can help us detect it sooner if it is.

Your doctor will feel your stomach and check for lumps. You may also have a blood test. Your doctor should also look at your medical and family history to determine your risk of stomach cancer.

If your doctor suspects stomach cancer, he or she may refer you for an upper endoscopy. You are more likely to be referred for an endoscopy if you are already at risk of stomach cancer. During an endoscopy, your doctor may also take a biopsy (small sample of tissue) to look for abnormal cells in your stomach.

You may also need scans, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or PET scan.

Who gets stomach cancer?

Anyone can get stomach cancer, although it is more common in men than women. People over 45 years of age also have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer. Other risk factors for stomach cancer include:

  • Family history of stomach cancer, especially a sibling or parent.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD/GERD)
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection
  • Long-term inflammation of the stomach (gastritis)
  • Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, being overweight or obese, and drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Dietary factors, such as a diet rich in salty, pickled and smoked foods; a diet low in fiber, fruits and vegetables