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Stomach Cancer

Symptoms

Early symptoms of stomach cancer tend to be vague and nonspecific. Seek medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Mild upper abdominal discomfort associated with nausea and loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing because of a tumor involving the upper part of your stomach, near the esophagus
  • Feeling of fullness after taking only a small amount of food

The following symptoms may indicate advanced disease:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss  
  • Iron deficiency anemia  
  • Overt blood loss - Vomiting blood or a material that looks like coffee grounds or passing black stools
  • Severe nausea and vomiting - A late symptom caused by blockage of the stomach drainage by the enlarging cancer  

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Prevention

The number of stomach cancers has decreased because of the following:

  • Improved socioeconomic standards
  • Widespread use of refrigeration for food preservation
  • Adoption of diets rich in fruits and vegetables

In areas where frequency of stomach cancer remains high, such as Japan, screening programs that include upper GI barium studies and, more recently, gastrointestinal endoscopy have improved survival rates.

Doctors are finding more cases at an early stage of development.

Eliminating Helicobacter pylori infection in people with  peptic ulcer disease   also may decrease rates of stomach cancer.

It has been suggested that people who had portions of their stomachs removed 20 years ago or longer should receive yearly endoscopies. This is because of the increased risk of stomach cancer following such surgery.

Evidence does not support mass screening of populations with lower rates of stomach cancer.

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