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Signs and Symptoms - Stomach Cancer

A symptom is something the patient feels and describes, such as a stomachache, while a sign is something others, including doctors and nurses can detect, such as a rash.

There are several symptoms associated with stomach cancer. However, as they also exist in many other much less serious conditions and illnesses, gastric cancer may be difficult to recognize initially. That is why so many patients are not diagnosed until the disease is already advanced.

Some of the early stomach cancer symptoms may include:

  • A sensation of being very full (and rapidly full) during meals
  • Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties)
  • Feeling bloated after meals
  • Frequent burping
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion that does not go away
  • Stomachache, or pain in the sternum (breastbone)
  • Trapped wind
  • Vomiting (may contain blood).

The following alarm signs and symptoms in people at increased risk of developing stomach cancer should be taken seriously

  • Dysphagia
  • Indigestion in combination with at least one of the symptoms/signs listed below:
    • unexpected weight loss
    • being sick
    • anemia (patient usually feels tired and possibly out of breath)

People aged 55+ years who develop persistent indigestion should see their doctor.

Individuals who develop indigestion and have at least one of the following in their medical history should see a doctor:

  • A close relative who has/had stomach cancer
  • Barret′s esophagus
  • Dysplasia - abnormal collection of cells. They are not cancerous but could become cancerous eventually
  • Gastritis - inflammation of the lining of the stomach
  • Pernicious anemia - the stomach does not absorb vitamin B12 properly from food
  • You have undergone previous surgery for stomach ulcers.

When the stomach cancer becomes more advanced, the following signs and symptoms typically become more apparent:

  • Accumulation of fluid in the stomach - stomach feels "lumpy"
  • Anemia
  • Black stools, or blood in stools
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss.

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