Stomach or gastric cancer develops in the inner lining of the stomach. This type of cancer typically grows at a slower rate than other forms, and it is easy to overlook the relatively mild symptoms in the early stages. Stomach cancer produces different symptoms depending on the area of the stomach where it develops.
Stomach cancer may not present with many symptoms in its earliest stages. When it does, individuals may feel vague abdominal pain and fullness and varying levels of discomfort above the navel. During the later stages of gastric cancer, this can be due to a buildup of fluid in the upper abdomen. This pain may come and go, ranging from dull to severe.
Indigestion is a general term that describes discomfort in the upper abdomen. Any type of irritation or inflammation in the area of the stomach can cause this symptom. Although it can be a symptom of stomach cancer, in most cases, indigestion is not indicative of a serious condition and can be treated with over-the-counter medications. It is not unusual for people to experience mild indigestion after eating a big meal or eating too fast. However, anyone experiencing repeated indigestion should speak to a doctor.
A person who has stomach cancer may find they become ill more often. The immune system's focus on fighting the cancer leaves the body susceptible to other illnesses and infections. Anyone who is becoming sick more often than previously should schedule an appointment to speak to their doctor, especially if they are experiencing other symptoms as well.
Often, those with stomach cancer experience a loss of appetite. The disease leaves people without a desire to eat for several days at a time. An unexpected loss of weight, due to less food consumption and the body's efforts to fight the disease, may also occur with stomach cancer.
A common symptom of stomach cancer is blood in the bowel movements. When the stomach or its lining bleeds, the fluid may collect with the rest of the body's waste. Stool with blood in it can appear almost black in color. While there are other causes of both dark stool and bloody stool, any significant changes to bowel movements should be medically investigated.
Many individuals with stomach cancer feel full even after they have eaten a small meal. The fluid buildup that accompanies stomach cancer can also create the illusion of a full stomach. Feeling full after eating a small amount is more common with stomach tumors that block the opening where the stomach connects with the small intestine. Early fullness can occur with other illnesses as well, but people who experience other worrying symptoms in conjunction with this should see a healthcare professional.
Stomach acid and fluids typically build up in the stomach when one has stomach cancer. This can create nearly constant nausea. Symptoms may also include vomiting or a feeling like one needs to vomit. These symptoms are not solely indicative of stomach cancer, but if coupled with multiple symptoms, may point to a health concern.
Feeling tired can be the result of a myriad of conditions and factors. However, when one is sleeping sufficiently, feeling more tired than usual can be a sign of an underlying condition. With gastric cancer, the tumor may bleed microscopically. The loss of small amounts of blood can cause anemia and chronic fatigue.
A fever is one way the body fights infection. People with stomach cancer may experience recurring low-grade fevers. This is due in part to the malignancy in the stomach area and the immune system's efforts to fight it. Fever is more common with advanced stomach cancer.
Difficulty swallowing is a relatively common symptom of stomach cancer, although it can occur with other health conditions as well. It's most common in people who have a tumor where the upper stomach meets the esophagus. Some people may feel like they cannot swallow, even if there are no physiological barriers to the action. Individuals who experience this symptom can try to moisten their throats with lozenges. A healthcare professional can run tests to see if this is a symptom of stomach cancer.
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