Stomach cancer symptoms can be the same as less serious conditions such as indigestion. But whether you suspect problems with digestion or stomach cancer you should make an appointment to see your doctor and get checked out.
This type of cancer is uncommon, but because the cancer is often advanced by the time it’s diagnosed it’s important to recognise all the signs.
Also, if stomach cancer is left untreated it can eat to the cancer spreading to other parts of the body, such as the liver.
Bupa outlines eight symptoms of stomach cancer to watch out for, from weight loss to a swelling or lump in the stomach.
The full list includes:
- Pain in the abdomen that might feel like digestion
- Losing a lot of weight
- Feeling bloated
- Losing your appetite
- Difficult swallowing
- Feeling sick or vomiting – you may vomit blood
- Blood in your faeces (stools), which can look black
- A swelling or lump in your stomach
The exact cause is still unclear, but various health bodies say you’re more likely to develop it if you are male, are of 55 years of age or older, smoke, have a diet low in fibre and high in processed food or red meat, or have a diet that contains a lot of salted and pickled foods.
The NHS advises: “Stomach cancer is much more common in older people, with 90 out of 100 cases occurring in people who are over 55 years of age.
“Indigestion is a very common symptom in the general population. However, it’s unlikely that someone with indigestion who’s under the age of 55 will have stomach cancer.
“However, see your GP if you have indigestion and weight loss, anaemia or persistent vomiting. They should refer you to a specialist for further testing.
“Also see your GP if you have difficulty swallowing. This isn’t a common symptom among the general population and the cause should always be investigated.”
Stomach cancer should not be confused with other cancers that can occur in the abdomen, like bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK.
Persistent blood in the stools and discomfort or bloating are two of the signs, but these can also be symptoms of piles and discomfort or bloating brought on by eating.
A persistent change in bowel habit is one of the notable signs of bowel cancer, and there are three changes you should note.
The NHS lists three bowel habit changes – going more often, looser stools, and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain.
But constipation, a common bowel problem where you pass harder stools less often, is rarely caused by serious bowel conditions.
The cause of most bowel cancers is not yet known, but there are six factors that can increase your risk of getting the disease.
According to Bowel Cancer UK these are being aged over 50, a strong family history of bowel cancer, a history of non-cancerous growths in your bowel, longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, type 2 diabetes, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
The charity says: “You are more at risk of getting bowel cancer if you have one or more of the following risk factors. This doesn’t mean that you will definitely get bowel cancer.
“Equally, if you don’t have any risk factors, it doesn’t mean you can’t get bowel cancer.”