Stomach cancer is associated with many signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, some of these symptoms don’t effectively alert patients, who often pass them off as passing discomforts and minor health problems. This makes cancer very difficult to diagnose. Some of the common stomach cancer signs and symptoms include:
• Stomach pain or discomfort
• Loss of appetite
These symptoms are linked to several other diseases, some of which are not as serious as cancer. Sometimes, the symptoms are also very mild and can even disappear for some time. Thus, it is easy to understand why some people fail to seek medical attention and only find out about their illness when the cancer has already progressed.
However, if a person misses these early symptoms, they are usually followed by more severe ones, such as:
• Bloody stools
• Sudden weight loss
• Moderate to severe stomach pain
If the early symptoms are identified, however, they can be managed, and cancer specialists can help the patient deal with these more serious symptoms. In many cases where the cancer is diagnosed early, the pain and discomfort can be minimized. However, if a patient only seeks medical attention when the symptoms are already severe, he may have to suffer a lot of these more serious symptoms, leading to a lot of pain and discomfort. This will lower the quality of the patient’s life and may render him unable to do even simple everyday activities.
If you go to a cancer specialist complaining of symptoms that suggest stomach cancer, your doctor will check you first for digestive problems. A gastroenterologist may be brought in to check your case. Cancer is usually avoided as a diagnosis until other possible problems have been ruled out or until actual evidence of the cancer can be found in tests. These tests will include blood testing and other laboratory tests including:
• Physical exam, to check for swelling, fluid, or other abnormalities in your abdomen
• Endoscopy, to check the esophagus and stomach with the use of a thin, lighted tube
• Biopsy, in which some tissue is removed from the stomach to check if cancer cells are present
Be prepared to answer questions regarding your personal health history. And since cancer is sometimes associated by genetic factors, you will also be asked about your family’s health history.