According to the latest statistics, stomach cancer is about 1/4 as common as it was 70 years ago. But, unfortunately, 24,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. If caught early, the five-year survival rate is 90%, which is a good thing. But, the bad thing about this is that its 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 three percent.
And now, you probably ask yourself – how can you stop this stealthy, silent killer before it strikes you? We can answer that question for you! You should arm yourself with knowledge by learning the risk factors and the warning signs of stomach cancer. Stomach cancer can be hard to detect because when the symptoms finally do occur, they are often so mild that the person ignores them.
According to the ACS (American Cancer Society), the following symptoms could indicate stomach cancer:
- indigestion or heartburn
- discomfort or pain in the abdomen
- nausea and vomiting
- diarrhea or constipation
- bloating of the stomach after meals
- loss of appetite
- weakness and fatigue
- bleeding (vomiting blood or having blood in the stool)
So, you should really ask yourselves – are you at risk? These are the most common factors that could increase your risk for developing stomach cancer include the following:
- age (over 55)
- gender (males are two-thirds more likely than women)
- diet high in foods that are smoked, dried, salted, or pickled
- smoking and alcohol abuse
- previous stomach surgery
- family history
- presence in stomach of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, which may cause ulcers
Ladies and gentlemen, this means that you should be very careful and if notice any of the warning signs mentioned above, you should see your doctor IMMEDIATELY. He or she may refer you to a gastroenterologist (a physician who specializes in digestive disorders) for further evaluation.