Gastric cancer is more commonly known as stomach cancer. It is usually diagnosed in later stages as symptoms are few in early disease and are often neglected by people. Feeling of fullness in upper abdomen, decrease in hunger, weight loss, weakness, vomiting, are some of the common symptoms. Like all cancers, stomach cancer is shrouded in a culture of myths and baseless facts. Here are some of these myths and actual facts to dispel any doubts:
- It’s not cancer if there is no pain: In the early stages of stomach cancer, symptoms are either absent or very mild so that they are usually neglected. This leads to delay in diagnosis. It needs to be stressed again that absence of pain does not mean that cancer can not be there. Slight fullness in the upper abdomen, decrease in appetite, etc. can be signs of stomach cancer.
- Sustained indigestion equals stomach cancer: While it is true that one of the symptoms of stomach cancer is indigestion, burping and/or acidity. But, indigestion doesn't always mean that it is stomach cancer. Most of the times, indigestion is not due to cancer. However, if there is recent onset of indigestion (from 2 weeks to a few months) with loss of appetite, weight loss and vomiting, possibility of cancer should be thought of and testing carried out.
- Stomach cancer is rare: Stomach cancer occurrence varies and it is more common in some areas and much less common in other areas. However, in totality, it is one of the very common cancer types. In India, stomach cancer is more common in southern and north-eastern parts of the country but it can occur in persons in any part of the country.
- Stomach cancer is not genetic: Even though it is not commonly seen as a hereditary disease, stomach cancer can be passed down through the genes, thereby increasing the chances of stomach cancer in people who possess it by 70 to 80 percent. Mutation in the CDH1 gene is usually the reason behind this. Sometimes also known to contribute to breast cancer in women.
- Stomach cancer has no cure: This is a misconception. Except for most advancer stage of cancer (stage IV), stomach cancer can be cured by proper treatment. Surgery is the mainstay of curative treatment for stomach cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also required in addition to surgery in many cases." In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!