The stomach cancer is about one-fourth as common as 70 years ago, 24,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. If diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate is 90%. But, unfortunately, symptoms rarely occur until the disease spreads throughout the stomach and to other organs.
At this advanced stage, the cancer is no longer treatable and the five-year survival rate is only 3%.
Stomach cancer can be difficult to detect because, when symptoms finally appear, they are often so mild that the person ignores them. According to the American Cancer Society, the following symptoms may indicate stomach cancer:
- indigestion or heartburn
- abdominal discomfort or pain
- nausea and vomiting
- diarrhea or constipation
- swelling of the stomach after meals
- loss of appetite
- weakness and fatigue
- bleeding (vomiting blood or having blood in the stool)
Are you at risk? Well, these are the most common factors that could increase your risk of developing stomach cancer, including the following:
- age (over 55)
- gender (males are two-thirds more likely than females)
- Diet high in foods that are smoked, dried, salted, or pickled.
- previous stomach surgery
- family history
Presence in the stomach of a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, which can cause ulcers.
Note: You should be very careful and if you suffer from the warning signs of stomach cancer or if you are concerned about your risk, talk to your doctor. He or she may refer you to a gastroenterologist (a doctor who specializes in digestive disorders) for further evaluation.
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