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Stomach Cancer: Symptoms, Risks, Prevention

Small changes can reduce big risks

Doctor takes Veteran┬┐s blood pressureStomach cancer can be considered rare compared to other types of cancer. The disease occurs when normally healthy cells within the upper digestive system become cancerous and grow out of control, forming a tumor. Stomach cancer tends to develop over many years and doesn't typically have early signs or symptoms. It's important to know how you can lower your risk of developing it.

Signs and symptoms

It's always good to know what symptoms to look for when you're concerned about an illness or disease. Like other cancers, finding stomach cancer in an earlier stage can help make treatment more comfortable and more successful. In the earlier stages, stomach cancer can cause:

  • indigestion and stomach discomfort

  • a bloated feeling after eating

  • mild nausea

  • loss of appetite

  • heartburn

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms frequently, talk to your health care team by signing in and sending a Secure Message.

Know the risks

Knowing what can cause those symptoms is just as important as noticing that you have them. We all have certain things we enjoy in our lives, but sometimes those lifestyle choices can harm us. Lifestyle choices that can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer are:

  • eating a lot of salty or processed foods

  • eating too much meat

  • having a history of alcohol abuse

  • not exercising

  • not storing or cooking food properly

It's also important to know that stomach cancer is more common among:

  • older adults, usually people 50 years and older

  • men

  • smokers

  • people with a family history of the disease

  • people who are of Asian, South American, or Belarusian descent

You may want to talk to your doctor about getting a screening test if you believe you're at risk of developing stomach cancer.

Reduce your chances

They're some things you can't change like your age, race, and family history. You can change your diet and exercise habits to reduce your risks. Some things you can try as preventative measures are:

  • eating a more plant-based diet

  • limiting the amount processed and high-fat meats you eat

  • maintaining a healthy weight

  • limiting your alcohol intake

  • avoiding tobacco use

These small changes can make a big impact on your chances of developing stomach cancer and on your overall health. If you have any questions or concerns regarding stomach cancer, don't hesitate to contact your health care team.

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Created November 18, 2019