Raising awareness: what are the symptoms of stomach cancer

The symptoms of stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, or oesophageal cancer can be hard to diagnose. The symptoms are known as ‘vague’ or non-specific symptoms as they can be found in a variety of illnesses (not only cancer). Without a full cancer screening, including taking a full patient history, cancer can easily be missed or not investigated promptly. Survival rates for stomach cancer vary, when diagnosed early survival rates can be higher. At the International Cancer Care Network (ICCN) we want to raise awareness and encourage anyone with vague stomach cancer symptoms to undergo a full health check and rule out the possibility of cancer.

What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?

The below symptoms of stomach cancer are the most common symptoms that are found. When these ‘vague’ symptoms persist for more than three weeks we suggest that you visit a specialist for a full investigation.

The symptoms of stomach cancer are:

  • Swallowing difficulties or pain when swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent reflux symptoms or indigestion 
  • Hoarse voice

Other symptoms of stomach cancer to note are:

  • Vomiting after eating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Change in stool colour

The symptoms of stomach and oesophageal cancer are similar due to their positioning in the body. Stomach cancer is often referred to as gastric cancer.

What is stomach cancer? And what is oesophageal cancer?

The oesophagus is the tube in our body that connects our mouth to our stomach. Our stomach absorbs and stores our food and is connected to the oesophagus on one end and the bowel on the other end. Together these three organs: the oesophagus, stomach and bowel make up our digestive system. 

The wall of each organ is made up of a number of layers including layers of muscle and layers of tissue. Cancer can form in the cells within any one of these layers and treatment, and your diagnosis, will differ depending on where exactly the cancer is located. If diagnosed, your health professional will provide you with the most relevant information. A second opinion is often advised.

Treatment for oesophageal cancer

The first stage is testing – it may not be cancer. We recommend blood tests and scans, which usually includes a CT scan. You may also be recommended an endoscopy (a small camera that is put into the oesophagus and stomach to look at the area for any abnormalities). A biopsy may also be taken at the same time to help diagnose anything abnormal that is found in the body .

If cancer is found, treatment can vary depending on the stage, type and location of the cancer. Surgery or radiotherapy are generally the treatments of choice. These treatments are usually given in combination with chemotherapy, in some settings immunotherapy can be used after chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are complete.

In patients with more advanced cancer, chemotherapy, in combination with other novel drugs are generally the treatment of choice. In recent years, there has been a great deal of new research into novel drug therapies and your medical team and oncologists will guide you through the available options for your treatment.

Early screening is recommended. For oesophageal cancer, more than half of patients diagnosed with stage 1 cancers will survive 5 years or more. This rate falls to around 15% in patients diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.

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Our goal at the ICCN is to offer the best quality care possible. We are pushing for rapid diagnosis, or exclusion of cancer and believe the first step to achieve this is education. 

Spotlight Health offer cancer screening tests for people who are worried about persistent symptoms. Screenings are also appropriate for people who don’t have any symptoms, but might be worried about cancer. This can be due to a high risk lifestyle or family history of cancer. Our team can counsel you on the tests that we have available to offer peace of mind. 

Our appointments are designed to offer a warm and welcoming service to alleviate worry or provide answers. If you have any questions please get in touch with us: contact@theiccn.co.uk 

The ICCN are highly qualified cancer specialists working in London. We provide education, cancer screenings and private cancer treatment in the UK.

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The ICCN are highly qualified cancer specialists working in London. We provide education, cancer screenings and private cancer treatment in the UK.

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