Many Americans likely know at least one person who has or who has experienced some form of cancer. You may even be affected by this condition. While many can identify the signs of breast cancer, or other common types of cancer, stomach cancer is one form that can come about quietly and quickly, and commonly isn’t diagnosed until it’s in the later stages. In an effort to draw attention to this frequently silent disease, November is designated as Stomach Cancer Awareness Month.
Read on to explore important information to know about stomach cancer so you may have a heightened awareness of this disease and know what to do should you ever find yourself dealing with this health concern. In the event you or a member of your family has stomach cancer or is at an increased risk, get in touch with Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates to request a visit. Our group of experienced gastroenterologists in New Orleans, LA can help you receive the advanced treatment you need.
What, exactly, is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, is diagnosed in around 30,000 people across the United States annually. It develops when the cells located in the stomach start to grow uncontrollably. Gastric cancer commonly develops over several years and starts with premalignant growths within the stomach lining. These developments commonly go unnoticed given that they don’t generally present any associated symptoms.
Given that evaluating for gastric cancer is not as common as colon cancer, it might often go undetected until the condition has spread or grown quite large. When this stage occurs, individuals will most likely begin to have signs or symptoms.
Are there common signs of stomach cancer?
As the condition progresses, several common gastric cancer symptoms may occur, including:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Fatigue or weakness
- Heartburn symptoms/abdominal discomfort
- Feeling full even after having a small meal
- Blood in the stool
If you notice any of these stomach cancer symptoms, our skilled New Orleans, LA gastroenterologists can help. Please contact our team at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates to visit a skilled provider.
Who is at risk of gastric cancer?
As indicated by the American Cancer Society®, the average age of a person diagnosed with stomach cancer is 68. Furthermore, approximately 60% of those with a stomach cancer diagnosis are over 65.
There are an array of additional things that increase a person’s chance of having stomach cancer outside of their age, including:
- Previous stomach problems (such as Menetrier disease, polyps, acid reflux, or stomach ulcers)
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Ethnicity (more prevalent in Asian/Pacific, Native American, African American, and Hispanic individuals)
- Gender (more common among males)
- Location (more prevalent among those from South American, Central America, Eastern Europe, and East Asia)
- Diet (more common in those who eat a high-sodium diet or a large amount of processed foods)
- Family history of gastric cancer
- Weight (more prevalent in overweight or obese persons)
- Occupation (more prevalent in people who work in the coal, rubber, or metal industries)
How is gastric cancer treated?
In the event you or a family member has been diagnosed with gastric cancer, our New Orleans, LA gastrointestinal (GI) doctors can determine a dynamic gastric cancer treatment plan depending on the type, stage, and progression of the disease.
Forms of treatment protocols our team might consider involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or other services. We will also take your age, overall health, and additional information into account when devising a treatment plan.
Is there a way to prevent gastric cancer?
Although there is no absolute method to prevent the occurrence of gastric cancer, there are a few things you can do to lower the risks, such as:
- Consuming a balanced diet containing plenty of fresh fruits (particularly citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges) and veggies, limited processed or red meats, and whole grains
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding tobacco use
Elevating awareness is the first step in preventing stomach cancer
At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, we strive to help all patients live happy, healthy lives. Even though our team is devoted to addressing your GI needs, we are passionate about providing the information required to potentially prevent certain gastrointestinal conditions and issues. Since Stomach Cancer Awareness Month is in effect, now is the ideal time to take action. Schedule a consultation with our New Orleans, LA digestive health specialists to learn your risk of gastric cancer and how you might take steps to protect your GI health.