Warning signs of stomach cancer and when to talk to a gastroenterologist

Although stomach cancer is a very serious form of the disease, it has become rare -- at least in developed countries with advanced medical care.  Worldwide, stomach cancer is still one of the top five causes of cancer-related deaths.  In countries where refrigeration is not available, people continue to rely on salt for preservation of meat -- which increases the risk of this cancer.

In developed countries, the biggest risk factor for stomach cancer is smoking cigarettes. As with all health-related issues, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet will reduce your odds for developing stomach cancers.  Men who are 40 or older are the most at-risk population for stomach cancer. Signs and symptoms are often tricky to detect, because many of them are similar to acid reflux disease and only one in five cases are detected in the early stages. However, you should talk to your gastroenterologist if you are experiencing excessive belching, vomiting blood or major changes in appetite. 

Seeking care from a specialist may increase your chances of survival. Dr. Mitchell Posner, a Chicago gastroenterologist, said “the chances of doing better are much higher” when patients in the later stages of digestive system cancer seek care from high-volume surgeons and institutions and explore surgical options and treatments.

A variety of lab tests are used to detect stomach cancer. The most common and most effective test is called an endoscopy. This test is primarily performed by a specialist, because it requires the patient to be sedated.  Dallas gastroenterologists from Dallas Regional Medical Center suggest that at-risk groups get tested every three years for stomach cancer to increase the chances of early detection.

Your digestive health is important, so take time to learn about protecting yourself and being alert for early signs of stomach cancer and also educate yourself on some of the facts about your digestive system. Take a look at this 5 Myths About Your Digestive System infographic as a start.


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