Stomach cancer symptoms: The painful sign to look out for

STOMACH cancer symptoms are often confused with less serious conditions. It is therefore imperative to know the warning signs and get them checked out by a GP as soon as possible. One painful symptom could signify the deadly condition.

Indigestion and heartburn can be very painful

Cancer Research UK

One early symptom is persistent indigestion (dyspepsia) and burping.

As Cancer Research UK explained: “You can get indigestion when acid from the stomach goes back up (refluxes) into the food pipe (oesophagus). Or you can get it if you have any irritation in your stomach.”

The symptom tends to reveal itself after eating, noted the charity.

However, indigestion is common and it’s not usually caused by cancer.

“Indigestion and heartburn can be very painful, even if nothing’s seriously wrong,” explained the health body.

A person should see their doctor if they experience heartburn most days for three weeks or more, it advised.

According to Macmillan Cancer Support, other early symptoms of stomach cancer include:

  • Having no appetite
  • Feeling full after eating only a small amount
  • Losing weight
  • Pain or swelling in the upper tummy area
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Having difficulty swallowing
  • Blood in the stools (bowel motions) or black stools
  • Feeling tired or breathless (due to anaemia, which is a reduced number of red blood cells)

Who is at risk?

The exact cause of stomach cancer is still unclear, although some people have a high risk of developing stomach cancer.

Risk factors include:

  • Being male
  • Being aged 55 or over
  • Smoking
  • Eating a diet low in fibre and high in processed food or red meat
  • Eating a diet that contains a lot of salted and pickled foods
  • Having a stomach infection caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria

According to Cancer Research UK, high salt intake is a particularly grave risk factor for stomach cancer. The unhealthy dietary decision causes around one in four stomach cancers.

Adults should aim to have no more than 6g of salt a day. This is around one teaspoon. In the UK, most people eat more than this, noted the Cancer Research UK.

“Most of the salt we eat is in the everyday foods such as bread, cereals and ready meals,” the health site explained.

Emphasising the health risks of eating lots of salty food, an 11-year study of 40,000 middle-aged Japanese, conducted by scientists from Japan’s National Cancer Centre Research Institute, suggested that high salt intake can double a person’s risk of stomach cancer.

The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found that the risk of stomach cancer was one in 500 per year for those men with the highest salt intake – twice the rate for those who ate the least salt.

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