November is a month where we all like to think about eating. After all, it is the month of Thanksgiving, an entire holiday dedicated to enjoying delicious food! However, November should cause you to think about your appetite for an entirely different reason. It just so happens to be National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month!
Stomach cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer in the world, claiming approximately 700,000 lives every year. Nearly one million new cases are diagnosed annually (Source: No Stomach For Cancer). Stomach cancer is often quite treatable if it is discovered early on. Unfortunately, stomach cancer in its early stages rarely produces symptoms, making diagnosis extremely difficult. In fact, only 1 out of 5 cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed in its early stages.
Because stomach cancer is so difficult to detect, you can best protect yourself by becoming familiar with the symptoms and risk factors.
Symptoms of stomach cancer include:
• Abdominal pain
• Loss of appetite
• Unexpected weight loss
Risk factors include:
• Age – most stomach cancer patients are in their late 60s-80s
• Gender – males have a higher risk than females
• Race – African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asians are more likely to develop stomach cancer
• Location – stomach cancer is most common in Japan, China, Southern and Eastern Europe, and South and Central America
• Family history – if you have a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with stomach cancer, you are at higher risk of developing the disease yourself
• Lifestyle – smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight and having a high-sodium, low-fiber diet are known to increase your risk of stomach cancer
• Health history – chronic gastritis, pernicious anemia, gastric polyps, intestinal metaplasia and prior stomach surgery place you at increased risk
• Occupation – Those who work in the coal, metal and rubber industries are more commonly diagnosed with stomach cancer
(Source: American Cancer Society)
Get your holiday season off to a great start this November. Prevent stomach cancer by knowing your risk, recognizing the symptoms, and making healthy lifestyle changes. Be sure to discuss any symptoms or concerns with your doctor. Early detection is key, so don’t delay. Start living a healthier lifestyle today!