Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is cancer that starts anywhere inside the stomach or the stomach wall. As early symptoms such as persistent indigestion and heartburn are easily confused with less serious conditions, cancer is often advanced by the time it’s diagnosed. It is therefore important to get any possible symptoms of stomach cancer checked by a GP as soon as possible. This change in toilet habit could signal the condition has advanced.
Your poo can also be darker if you’re taking iron tablets
Cancer Research UK
According to Cancer Research UK, if your poo is darker – almost black – it means your stomach is bleeding.
This is associated with advanced stomach cancer.
“Your poo can also be darker if you’re taking iron tablets,” added the charity.
A loss of appetite and weight loss also signify the cancer has advanced, said the NHS.
Although the exact cause of stomach cancer is still unclear, there are a number of risk factors associated with the condition.
These include if you:
- Are male
- Are aged 55 or over
- Have a diet low in fibre and high in processed food or red meat
- Have a diet that contains a lot of salted and pickled foods
- Have a stomach infection caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria
According to Cancer Research UK, your risk of stomach cancer is higher if you have a condition that lowers the amount of acid in the stomach or if you’ve had an operation on your stomach that reduces the amount you produce.
There is also some researching linking obesity to the disease, although the findings are inconclusive, explained the health site.
Diet may even play a role in treating and preventing stomach cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, researchers from the United States and Italy found that whole extracts from two varieties of tomato – San Marzano and Corbarino – blocked the growth of stomach cancer cells and dampened their malignant characteristics.
To reach their findings, the researchers tested the effects of whole extracts from San Marzano and Corbarino tomatoes on stomach cancer cell lines.
They found that each extract not only halted the growth of gastric cancer cells, but they also interfered with cell migration – whereby cancer cells begin to move away from the primary tumour to invade surrounding tissues – and led to cancer cell death.
Furthermore, the researchers found that the anti-cancer effects of the tomato extracts were not down to one particular compound.
“Their anti-tumoral effect seem not related to specific components, such as lycopene, but rather suggest that tomatoes should be considered in their entirety,” says study co-author Daniela Barone, of the Oncology Research Center of Mercogliano in Italy.
Commenting on the findings, study researcher Prof. Antonio Giordano said: “Our results prompt further assessment of the potential use of specific nutrients not only in the cancer prevention setting but also as a supportive strategy along with conventional therapies.”
In many cases, however, stomach cancer can’t be completely cured, but it’s still possible to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life using chemotherapy and in some cases radiotherapy and surgery, explained the NHS.
If operable, surgery, also known as gastrectomy, can cure stomach cancer as long as all of the cancerous tissue can be removed, added the health site.
“It will still be possible to eat normally after a gastrectomy, but you’ll probably have to adjust the size of your portions,” it explained.
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