Stomach cancer, medically known as gastric cancer, is a formidable health concern that arises when abnormal cells multiply uncontrollably in the stomach lining. Often diagnosed at an advanced stage, symptoms may include indigestion, unintentional weight loss, and abdominal discomfort. Factors such as age, gender, family history, and Helicobacter pylori infection contribute to its risk.
Zee News English spoke to Dr Nishant Jangir, MS MCh, Assist professor at SMS Medical College, Jaipur to further help debunk the many myths around stomach cancer and also helps unveil the truth around these misconceptions.
Myth: Stomach cancer is always symptomatic.
Fact: Stomach cancer can develop without noticeable symptoms in its early stages.
Contrary to popular belief, stomach cancer may not always present obvious symptoms in its initial phases. Some individuals might experience vague discomfort, mild indigestion, or no symptoms at all. Regular medical check-ups and screenings become crucial, especially for those with risk factors such as a family history of stomach cancer or infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
Myth: Spicy foods and stress cause stomach cancer.
Fact: While diet and stress will play a role in overall health, they are not direct causes of stomach cancer.
Spicy foods and stress are often wrongly accused of causing stomach cancer. While a healthy lifestyle is essential for well-being, stomach cancer is more closely linked to factors such as genetics, H. pylori infection, smoking, and certain dietary components. A balanced diet, stress management, and avoiding tobacco can contribute to overall health but are not singularly responsible for stomach cancer.
Myth: Stomach cancer only affects older individuals.
Fact: Stomach cancer can occur in people of all ages, but the risk increases with age.
While it’s true that stomach cancer is more common in older adults, particularly those over the age of 65, it can affect individuals of any age. Younger people can develop stomach cancer, especially if they have specific risk factors or a family history of the disease. Regular medical check-ups are important for early detection and effective treatment.
Myth: If you have stomach pain, it must be cancer.
Fact: Stomach pain can be caused by various conditions, and not all instances are related to cancer.
Stomach pain is a common symptom of numerous gastrointestinal issues, ranging from indigestion to ulcers. While persistent or severe pain should not be ignored, it does not automatically indicate cancer. Stomach cancer symptoms can be subtle, making it crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Myth: Stomach cancer is always fatal.
Fact: Survival rates for stomach cancer vary, and early detection significantly improves outcomes.
While stomach cancer can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, advances in medical science have improved treatment options and outcomes. Early diagnosis plays a pivotal role in the success of treatment. Regular screenings, especially for individuals with risk factors, can lead to the detection of stomach cancer at more manageable stages.
Myth: Stomach cancer is not preventable.
Fact: Certain lifestyle choices and regular screenings can reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
While some risk factors, such as genetics, cannot be changed, adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to preventing stomach cancer. Avoiding tobacco, maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, managing H. pylori infection, and attending regular medical check-ups are proactive steps to reduce the risk of developing stomach cancer.
It is essential to consult with healthcare professionals for accurate information, screenings, and personalized guidance based on individual health profiles.