November - Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

November 3, 2014 by Molly Huff

A little known fact is that stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the world - almost one million people are diagnosed each year, and of these, approximately 700,000 will lose their battle with this devastating disease.

November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, and Affinity wants to help educate you and yours about raising awareness of this cancer, looking at risk factors, defining prevention and laying out recognition of early symptoms in order to have a better chance of beating this disease.

What are the key risks for stomach cancer?

  • Tobacco Use
  • Obesity
  • Diets rich in smoked, salted and pickled foods
  • Diets low in fruits and vegetables
  • Environmental exposure to dust and fumes

Who is most at risk for developing stomach cancer?

  • Men over 50
  • People having Type A blood
  • Having H. pylori bacterial infection
  • People with history of stomach polyps or stomach lymphoma
  • Race: more common in Asians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, African Americans
  • Family history of hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer and family history of stomach cancer itself

Key prevention and risk reducing facts:

  • Early detection is key to surviving stomach cancer
  • Lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can potentially reduce the risk of stomach cancer
  • Treatment of H. pylori infection
  • Knowing your family history and discussing it with your healthcare provider can help determine if you are at risk for inherited cancer syndromes

Stomach Cancer signs and symptoms can include:

  • Indigestion, heartburn or ulcer-type symptoms
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Abdominal pain or vague discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel
  • Nausea and vomiting and/or bloating after meals
  • Vomiting blood, or blood in stool
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Sense of fullness after eating small amounts of food
  • Symptoms may mimic other conditions such as GERD, gastritis or peptic ulcer

Signs and symptoms should never be ignored even though most of these symptoms may be caused by things other than stomach cancer. If you have any or many of these symptoms, especially if they don’t go away or if they get worse, please contact one of Affinity Health Clinic’s Internists, Family Practitioners or Gastroenterologists for an appointment. It’s always wise and you’re better off being safe than sorry in situations regarding your health.

Affinity Health Care wishes you a happy November, and as always, be well and stay on top of your health!