Stomach Cancer – Symptoms, Causes and Preventive Measures

Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, occurs when cells in any region of the stomach undergo abnormal growth and division. Tumors can originate from various parts of the stomach, but the majority develop in the glandular tissue lining the inner surface. This form of cancer is typically classified as adenocarcinoma of the stomach.

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

  • Persistent abdominal pain or a burning sensation

    • Frequent heartburn or indigestion (dyspepsia)
    • Feeling full or bloated, even after consuming a small meal
    • Nausea and/or vomiting, which may include blood
    • Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss
    • Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites)
    • Unexplained fatigue or weakness

    Additionally, vomiting blood or noticing blood in vomit can be a concerning symptom that warrants immediate medical attention. These symptoms may not necessarily indicate stomach cancer, but it’s important to consult a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or severe symptoms. Early detection and treatment can improve outcomes for stomach cancer.


Causes of Stomach Cancer

The exact cause of stomach cancer is often not clear, but several factors can increase the risk of developing the disease:

  1. Helicobacter pylori Infection: Infection with H. pylori bacteria is a major risk factor for stomach cancer. This bacterium can cause chronic inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) and increase the risk of developing cancer over time.
  2. Family History: Individuals with a family history of stomach cancer are at higher risk of developing the disease themselves. Certain genetic factors may predispose individuals to stomach cancer.
  3. Dietary Factors: A diet high in salty, smoked, pickled, or processed foods can increase the risk of stomach cancer. Consumption of large amounts of smoked or salt-preserved foods, as well as low intake of fruits and vegetables, has been associated with higher risk.
  4. Tobacco and Alcohol Use: Smoking tobacco and heavy alcohol consumption are known risk factors for stomach cancer.
  5. Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing stomach cancer.
  6. Age: The risk of stomach cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in individuals over the age of 60.
  7. Previous Stomach Surgery: Individuals who have undergone stomach surgery, such as partial gastrectomy, for other conditions may have an increased risk of stomach cancer.
  8. Certain Medical Conditions: Chronic conditions such as pernicious anemia, stomach polyps, or stomach lymphoma can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
  9. Exposure to Certain Chemicals: Occupational exposure to certain chemicals, such as asbestos, coal dust, and metalworking fluids, may increase the risk of stomach cancer.
  10. Radiation Therapy: Previous radiation therapy to the abdomen or stomach area for the treatment of other cancers may increase the risk of stomach cancer later in life.

It’s important to note that having one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean a person will develop stomach cancer, but it’s essential to be aware of these factors and take preventive measures where possible. Making lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and seeking treatment for H. pylori infection, can help reduce the risk of stomach cancer. Regular screening and early detection may also improve outcomes for individuals at higher risk.

Preventive Measures:

Preventive measures for stomach cancer focus on reducing risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Here are some strategies to help lower the risk of developing stomach cancer:

  1. Healthy Diet: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit the intake of processed and salty foods, as well as smoked, pickled, and cured foods, which can increase the risk of stomach cancer. Avoiding or reducing the consumption of foods preserved with salt or nitrites, such as bacon and cured meats, is particularly important.
  2. pylori Infection Management: Seek treatment for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection if diagnosed. This may involve a combination of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to eradicate the bacteria and reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
  3. Quit Smoking: If you smoke, quit smoking. Smoking tobacco increases the risk of stomach cancer, as well as many other types of cancer and health conditions.
  4. Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels. Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer.
  5. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Aim to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through regular physical activity and a balanced diet. Obesity is a risk factor for stomach cancer.
  6. Avoid Exposure to Carcinogens: Minimize exposure to environmental carcinogens, such as asbestos, coal dust, and certain chemicals used in metalworking, which may increase the risk of stomach cancer.
  7. Practice Food Safety: Handle and prepare food safely to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, which can increase the risk of stomach cancer. This includes washing hands and surfaces thoroughly, cooking foods to the appropriate temperature, and storing food properly.
  8. Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, as physical activity may help reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
  9. Screening and Early Detection: While routine screening for stomach cancer is not typically recommended for the general population, individuals with a family history of stomach cancer or certain genetic conditions may benefit from regular screening. Early detection of precancerous changes or early-stage cancer can improve treatment outcomes.
  10. Maintain Good Hygiene: Practice good hygiene, including washing hands regularly, to reduce the risk of infections that may contribute to stomach cancer, such as H. pylori infection.

By incorporating these preventive measures into your lifestyle, you can help reduce the risk of developing stomach cancer and promote overall health and well-being. If you have concerns about your risk of stomach cancer or need guidance on preventive measures, consult with a healthcare professional.

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