You’re Seeing Blood In Your Stool
While, yes, this can be a sign of stomach cancer, it’s also linked to tons of other conditions that aren’t cancer-related, says Allyson Ocean, M.D., a gastrointestinal oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian.
If it is stomach cancer, however, the blood is likely related to inflammation caused by cancer, and tends to show up in more advanced stages of the disease, though it can also show up earlier on.
You’re Having Trouble Swallowing
If you have a stomach tumor that is extending up into the esophagus, you might experience something called dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. You might notice this as a feeling that food is getting stuck in your throat, says Ocean, or it might present as coughing or choking while eating or drinking, according to the American College of Gastroenterology .
In some cases, it may also feel like food comes back up shortly after eating it, per the ACG, which also notes that heartburn will likely accompany difficulty swallowing. Regardless, swallowing is kind of an essential part of being a human, so it’s best to get that checked out ASAP.
Causes Of Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer is caused by changes in the cells of the stomach, although it’s unclear exactly why these changes occur.
Cancer begins with a change in the structure of the DNA in cells, which can affect how they grow. This means cells grow and reproduce;uncontrollably, producing a lump of tissue called a tumour.
Left untreated, cancer can spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymphatic system .
Once the cancer reaches your lymphatic system, it’s capable of spreading to other parts of your body, including your blood, bones and organs.
It’s not known what triggers the;changes in DNA;that lead to stomach cancer and why only a small number of people develop the condition.
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Certain Factors Affect Prognosis And Treatment Options
The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage of the cancer .
- The patients general health.
When gastric cancer is found very early, there is a better chance of recovery. Gastric cancer is often in an advanced stage when it is diagnosed. At later stages, gastric cancer can be treated but rarely can be cured. Taking part in one of the clinical trials being done to improve treatment should be considered. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI website.
D Symptoms Secondary To Bile Duct Obstruction
Because the pancreatic tumor mass of ductal adenocarcinoma most commonly arises from the head of the pancreas which are the sections where the bile duct joins with the pancreatic duct, the normal flow of the bile duct is often obstructed, thus disrupting the natural deposition of the bile fluid into the small bowel. This bile duct obstruction causes a back-up of the bile pigment into areas where it shouldnt normally go creating the clinical symptoms of jaundice with its attendant yellowish skin coloration and other associated changes, and which is often accompanied by a loss of appetite and by the symptom of unrelenting and often debilitating pruritis of the skin.
Additionally, the lack of bile salts which are now unavailable for normal digestive and other bowel processes, can result in complex physiological interactions leading to liver and immune dysfunction. This interruption of normal bile deposition may also disrupt the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and the conjugation of endotoxins, thus leading to possible blood coagulation difficulties, malabsorption syndromes and even kidney failure. Also, up to ten percent of affected patients may develop cholangitis .
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Symptoms That Resemble Other Conditions
The symptoms of pancreatic cancer may be similar to those of other conditions or medical problems, which can delay diagnosis even further. Upon diagnosis, patients often look back and start to make a connection between various symptoms that seemed unrelated or unremarkable at the time.
Listen to your body and consult with your doctor about any new symptoms you may be experiencing, even if you think they can be explained. While cancer is probably not the culprit, diagnostic tests can help to confirm the case.
Who Is More Likely To Get Stomach Cancer
Anyone can get stomach cancer. It’s not always clear what causes it.
You might be more likely to get it if you:
- are over the age of 50
- are a man
- have a long-term infection with Helicobacter pylori read more about;the link between H. pylori and stomach cancer on the Cancer Research UK website
- have certain stomach conditions, such as long-term, severe;acid reflux,;gastritis;or a condition called pernicious anaemia, which affects your immune system
- have a brother, sister or parent who had stomach cancer
Many stomach cancers are also linked to lifestyle.
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What Are Risk Factors For Stomach Cancer
There are some other factors besides H. pylori that can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer too, Dr. El-Hayek says, such as:
- Age .
- Being overweight or obese.
- Previous stomach surgery for ulcers.
- Having type A blood.
- A diet high in smoked foods, salted fish and cure meats.
- A family history.
The 4 Most Painful Types Of Cancer And What Makes Them Hurt So Much
Even by the broadest definition possible abnormal cell growth there are more than 100 different types of cancer, depending on where in the body that growth first occurs.
Similarly, though cancer often leaves its sufferers racked with pain, these symptoms will vary depending on factors such as the cancer’s;location;and exact cause . In light of this, lets take a brief look at four;of the most painful cancers around, in no particular order, as well as why they hurt so much.
What are some of the most painful cancers around?Pixabay, Public Domain
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Types Of Stomach Cancer
Most cancers of the stomach are adenocarcinomas. These cancers develop from the gland cells in the innermost lining of the stomach .
If you are told you have stomach cancer , it will almost always be an adenocarcinoma. The information on the following pages that discusses stomach cancer refers to this type of cancer.
There are 2 main types of stomach adenocarcinomas:
- The;intestinal;type tends to have a slightly better prognosis . The cancer cells are more likely to have certain gene changes that might allow for treatment with;targeted drug therapy.
- The;diffuse;type tends to grow spread more quickly. It is less common than the intestinal type, and it tends to be harder to treat.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors
These uncommon tumors start in very early forms of cells in the wall of the stomach called interstitial cells of Cajal. Some GISTs are much more likely than others to grow into other areas or spread to other parts of the body. Although GISTs can start anywhere in the digestive tract, most start in the stomach. For more information, see;Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor .
Neuroendocrine tumors start in cells in the stomach that act like nerve cells in some ways and like hormone-making cells in others. Most NETs tend to grow slowly and do not spread to other organs, but some can grow and spread quickly. NETs are discussed in more detail in;Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors.
What Is Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain is discomfort or other uncomfortable sensations that you feel in your belly area. Just about everybody at one time or another will get a bellyache.
Most causes of abdominal pain aren’t reasons to worry, and your doctor can easily diagnose and treat the problem. Sometimes, though, it can be a sign of a serious illness that needs medical attention.
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How To Distinguish A Regular Bloat From A Sign Of Cancer
For bloating to be a cause for concern, it generally needs to have lasted for more than two weeks in a month, saids Monique Swain, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, writing in an editorial on the medical website Health.
If bloating is persistent and does not vary with changing eating habits or bowel movements, it is a good idea to seek medical care, added Alex Hewlett, DO, associate professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in the same article.
Another telltale sign that bloating could be a sign of ovarian cancer is a change in your toilet habits.
Out-of-the-ordinary bowel or urinary issues is a sign that something is wrong.
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For example, you might suddenly need to go to the bathroom more urgently if a mass is big enough and pressing on the bladder, said Dr Swain.
Bloating can also signal advanced bowel cancer.
As Cancer Research UK explains, advanced bowel cancer can sometimes cause swelling of the tummy .
This is due to a build up of fluid in the tummy .
Your Appetite Dries Up In A Hurry
You were hungry when you sat down to eat. But after a few bites, your appetite vanishes and the food isn’t appealing. Dr. Sarpel calls this “early satiety,” and says it’s another symptom that couldemphasis on couldindicate stomach cancer. “Especially if feeling full really quickly is different than what you’re used to, that’s something you shouldn’t ignore,” she says.
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Testing For Other Conditions And Cancers
Individuals who have hereditary diffuse gastric cancer syndrome and Lynch syndrome have a drastically increased risk of stomach cancer. Recognizing these and taking precautions after receiving a doctors advice can reduce the risk.
People with close family members who have had stomach cancer and those who had invasive lobular breast cancer before the age of 50 years might benefit from genetic testing.
If a test shows changes in the CDH1 gene, a doctor may recommend removing the stomach before cancer develops.
Current research is looking into the possible cancer links of chronic Helicobacter pylori infection in the stomach lining.
Early studies suggest that treating H. pylori infection with antibiotics can reduce the risk of stomach cancer, although further research is necessary.
How Might Pain Affect People With Cancer
Any type of pain, not just cancer pain, can affect all parts of a person’s life. Some days it may be better or worse than others.
If you have pain, you might not be able to do your job well or take part in other day-to-day activities. You may have trouble sleeping and eating. You might be irritable with the people you love. Its easy to get frustrated, sad, and even angry when youre in pain. Family and friends dont always understand how youre feeling, and you may feel very alone. This is not unusual, so it’s important to talk about your pain with your health care team so they can help.
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Indigestion That Doesn’t Go Away And Burping
You can get indigestion when acid from the stomach goes back up into the food pipe . Or you can get it if you have any irritation in your stomach. This often happens after eating .
Remember, indigestion is common and it’s not usually caused by cancer. Indigestion and heartburn can be very painful, even if nothings seriously wrong. See your doctor if youve had heartburn most days for 3 weeks or more.;
When To Seek Help
According to the NHS, if you recognise one or more of the symptoms of bowel cancer or if your bloating symptoms persist, consult your GP to rule out a more serious condition.
In most cases, however, simple lifestyle adjustments should help to alleviate your bloating.
If you get constipation, for example, take steps to prevent it by adding more fibre to your diet, drinking lots of fluids and exercising regularly, advises the NHS.
Even a 20 to 30 minute brisk walk four times a week can improve your bowel function, explains the health body.
It is also worth keeping a food diary as this can help to determine whether your bloating is caused by a food intolerance.
The best approach if you have a food intolerance is to eat less of the problem food or cut it out completely, adds the NHS.
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Surgery To Remove Stomach Cancer
If stomach cancer is found early, has not spread or has not spread far you may be able to have surgery to remove it.
Surgery will remove part or all of the stomach. They may also need to remove parts of other organs around the stomach.
Recovery from surgery to treat stomach cancer can take a long time. The specialist team looking after you will discuss all the benefits and side effects.
You Don’t Really Have An Appetite
Loss of appetite is definitely something to pay attention tosay, if youve always been a foodie and now suddenly youve lost all interest in eatingand its a good idea to get checked out by a GI doctor, says Ocean.
Ulcers, however, can also cause a loss of appetite , but ulcers are also a risk factor for stomach cancer, so it’s smart to get checked out regardless.
4. You have awful heartburn.
Heartburn is kind of complicated, says Ocean, in that it can both be a sign of cancer and also a risk factor for it. People with heartburn may have a peptic ulcer, which means they have more acid in their stomachs, which puts them at a higher risk for stomach cancer, says Ocean.
Heartburn can manifest as the telltale burning sensation, nausea, or even chest pain, so its not always easy to self-diagnose. If youve been popping antacids for weeks on the regular, get yourself checked out.
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Side Effects Of Stomach Cancer Treatments
All cancer treatments can have side effects. Your treatment team will discuss these with you before you start treatment. Talk to your doctor or nurse about any side effects you are experiencing.
Some side effects can be upsetting and difficult, but there is help if you need it. Call Cancer Council Victoria Tel. or email to speak with a caring cancer nurse for support.
If You’re Told You Have Stomach Cancer
Being told you have stomach cancer can feel overwhelming. You may be feeling anxious about what will happen next.
It can help to bring someone with you to any appointments you have.
A group of specialists will look after you throughout your diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Your team will include a clinical nurse specialist who will be your main point of contact during and after treatment.
You can ask them any questions you have.
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Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms: Location Matters
Initially, pancreatic cancer tends to be silent and painless as it grows. By the time it’s large enough to cause symptoms, pancreatic cancer has generally grown outside the pancreas. Because of the location of the pancreas in the body, symptoms include:
- Jaundice. As pancreatic cancer blocks duct that releases bile into the intestine , the ingredients of bile build up in the blood. This turns the skin and the eyes yellow, a condition called jaundice. The same blockage causes dark urine, light colored stools, and itching.
- Abdominal pain. Pancreatic cancer can cause a dull ache in the upper abdomen radiating to the back. The pain may come and go.
- Back pain.
- Bloating. Some people with pancreatic cancer have a sense of early fullness with meals or an uncomfortable swelling in the abdomen.
In general, symptoms appear earlier from cancers in the head of the pancreas, compared to those in the body and tail. Keep in mind that having any or all of these symptoms doesnât mean a person has pancreatic cancer. There are many other causes for these types of symptoms.
Liver Cancer Pain Location
Liver cancer pain is commonly focused on the top right of the abdominal area, near the right shoulder blade. The pain can sometimes extend into the back. It can also be felt in the lower right portion of the rib cage.
The pain might be accompanied by swelling in the abdomen and in the legs and ankles. This type of swelling can also cause discomfort.
People with liver cancer or cancer that has spread to the liver can experience pain from numerous sources, including:
- Tumors. The pain associated with liver cancer can be caused by a tumor or tumors in the liver.
- Capsule stretching. Stretching of the capsule around the liver can cause discomfort.
- Referred pain. Discomfort can also come from referred pain caused by the enlarged liver putting pressure on the nerves under the diaphragm. This may result in pain in the right shoulder, because some of the nerves under the diaphragm connect to nerves there.
- Treatment. Pain can be the result of treatment. Cancer medications have been known to cause gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea. Also, surgery can cause postoperative pain.
- Underlying causes. If liver cancer has been caused by cirrhosis, sometimes the pain is not from the tumor, but from the cirrhosis.
Treatment of pain associated with liver cancer can take many forms.
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Tumor Location Impacts Symptoms
The location of the tumor in the pancreas affects the types of symptoms and how soon they might start to show. For example, jaundice symptoms may appear when the tumor obstructs the head of the pancreas.
If the tumor is in the body or tail of the pancreas, pain and weight loss might be more likely. Pancreatic cancer in the body or tail can also take longer to present with symptoms, allowing the tumor more time to grow or metastasize before its found.;