Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

November isn’t just about turkey and holiday shopping. November also is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month.

The goal of Stomach Cancer Awareness Month is to raise awareness for stomach cancer through education, research and highlighting the importance of early diagnosis. It’s also a time to unite and show support for those affected by the disease.

Stomach cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in the stomach lining. In 2018, there were an estimated 26,240 new cases of stomach cancer.

Stomach Cancer Risk Factors

  • A family history of stomach cancer. The Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving Day National Family History Day. Thanksgiving offers the opportunity to enjoy your holiday meal with family and learn about your family’s medical history and what diseases you may be more prone to.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoke can increase your risk for many diseases, including stomach cancer. Because the weather is beginning to get cold, November could be a great time to think about quitting.
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. H. pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium that grows in the stomach’s mucus lining. It spreads through contaminated food and water or direct mouth-to-mouth contact. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population harbors H. pylori with infections being more common in developing countries. The bacteria do not cause usually illness, but are classified as a carcinogen, meaning H. pylori infection is a risk factor for stomach cancer. It can also put humans at risk for peptic ulcer disease.

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

Early symptoms of stomach cancer can be easily missed. Indigestion, bloating, mild nausea, heartburn and loss of appetite can be indicators of various diseases. Stomach cancer is just one of many possibilities.

In more advanced stages, the symptoms are more pronounced. Vomiting, weight loss, stomach pain, bloody stool and jaundice (yellowing skin and eyes) are symptoms seen in later stages.

If experiencing any of the symptoms above, a person should schedule a visit with their doctor. Early detection is vital to giving patients the best possible outcome. People should be especially vigilant if they have one or more risk factors for stomach cancer.

Spread the Word, Show Support

If nothing else, the best way to observe Stomach Cancer Awareness Month is by spreading the word using social media and word of mouth. Encourage loved ones to know their own risk factors and see their doctor if they are experiencing early symptoms.

Another way to contribute is by raising funds to support stomach cancer research. People can raise funds via an online fundraising site, community event or other initiative. When donating to a reputable organization, every little bit helps.