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Stomach cancer represent about one-fourth as common as it was 70 years ago, but unfortunately, 24,000 new cases are diagnosed annually only in the United States. The five-year survival rate is 90% if it’s caught early. Unfortunately, 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 3%.
So, what can you do to stop this stealthy, silent killer before it strikes you? First and the most important thing is to 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. The American Cancer Society claims that these are the symptoms which 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)
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 of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, which may cause ulcers
Note: Be very careful and if you suffer from the warning signs of stomach cancer or are worried about your risk, visit your doctor! They may advise you to go to a gastroenterologist (a physician who specializes in digestive disorders) for a further evaluation! Only that will help you make sure that you don’t have stomach cancer!