7 Stomach Cancer Symptoms in Women & When To Worry.
Our content is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice by your doctor. Use for informational purposes only.
How Common is stomach cancer in women?
Stomach (gastric) cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide. However, its incidence is decreasing nowadays (we don’t know the exact cause of this decline). H. Pylori recognition and treatment may be the cause.
Also, it is more common in certain regions of the world than in others.
In the United States, the incidence of gastric cancer is relatively low (about 22,000 are diagnosed yearly).
Fortunately, women have less risk of stomach cancer than men (female to male ratio is about 1:2)
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Unfortunately, many cases of stomach cancer in women are asymptotic (especially at the early stage). Moreover, most initial symptoms are not specific (loss of appetite, nausea, etc.).
This is problematic because the lack of symptoms or the non-specific presentations leads to the late discovery of the malignancy.
2. Weight loss (frequency at the time of diagnosis: 62%).
A large study investigated the most common stomach cancer symptoms in women and men (done on about 18,363 U.S. stomach cancer patients) and found that weight loss is the most common symptom.
Weight loss was found in 62% of women and men at the time of diagnosis.
Weight loss is likely to reduce food intake due to anorexia, nausea, and early satiety.
A significant weight loss is considered when you lose more than 5% of your body weight within 6-12 months (without trying).
3. Abdominal Pain (52%).
Abdominal pain may be felt as a vague, dull pain in the upper part of your abdomen. The pain often increases after eating.
Women may feel mild, intermittent pain in the early course of stomach cancer. As the disease progresses, the pain becomes more severe and constant (in the epigastric area).
Stomach pain is found in roughly half the cases at the presentation time (at first diagnosis).
4. Nausea (34%).
A sense of impending vomiting (nausea) is present in about one-third of patients at the time of diagnosis.
Unfortunately, Nausea is a common symptom in women, and it is not specific to stomach cancer in women.
Nausea occurs due to the inability of the stomach to distend (due to the tumor mass). Also, nausea can be caused by tumors that prevent stomach emptying (partial gastric outlet obstruction).
5. Difficulty swallowing or dysphagia (26%).
About one-quarter of stomach cancer patients (men and women) have difficulty swallowing.
Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing is more common in stomach cancers close to the junction between the esophagus and the stomach.
6. Black Tarry Stool (20%).
One in every five stomach cancer patients (men or women) may present with black tarry stool (bleeding).
It occurs due to bleeding from the stomach mass inside the stomach. The blood turns into a black tarry material with a characteristic fishy smell.
It may or may not be associated with the vomiting of blood. Anemia and bleeding symptoms may also occur, such as:
- Shortness of breath.
- Fast heartbeats.
- Dizziness or headache.
- Fainting attacks.
- Lowe blood pressure (shock) in cases of massive bleeding.
7. Early Satiety (18%).
Early satiety is another symptom that may also mean stomach cancer.
Women with stomach cancer may feel hungry but cannot complete their meals because of the early fullness of the stomach.
Early satiety may lead to weight loss in the long term.
8. Ulcer-type Pain (17%).
Patients may also present with stomach pain identical to peptic ulcer disease (burning or gnawing pain in the epigastric area, increased by eating and associated with nausea).
- Easy Fatigue.
- Shortness of breath.
- Vomiting of blood.
- Bad mouth odor.
- Signs of distant metastasis include bone pain, jaundice (liver metastasis), Ascites, etc.
- Rarely, stomach cancer in women may present with stomach perforation or intestinal obstruction.
Risk factors of Stomach cancer in women.
The following are the risk factors to consider when you suspect stomach cancer.
Understanding these risk factors is important because early stages of stomach cancer in women are either asymptomatic or have mild, non-specific symptoms.
Common risk factors of stomach cancer in women include:
- High-salt diet (salt-preserved foods).
- Dietary N-nitroso compounds.
- Smoking and alcohol.
- Low Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate in the diet.
- Low fiber diet.
- Smoked or cured food (consumption of large amounts).
- H. Pylori infection.
- Drinking of contaminated water.
- Overeating (high caloric consumption).
- GERD (acid reflux).
- Occupation exposure to Rubber, tin, metal processing, and coal industry.
- Epstein-Barr Virus infection.
- Radiation exposure.
- Older ages.
- Blood group A.
- Pernicious anemia.
- Peptic ulcer disease.
- Benign gastric polyps.
In women, the low risk of gastric cancer (compared to men) is reproductive hormones (such as estrogen and progesterone) may have protective effects against stomach cancer.
When should a woman worry about stomach cancer?
Unfortunately, most cases of stomach cancer in women are either symptomatic or have mild, non-specific symptoms.
So, don’t be concerned if you experience a single symptom of enlisted stomach cancer symptoms.
Worry if you have a combination of risk factors and multiple symptoms. Older people (especially women over 60 and 70 years) should also worry about new onset symptoms.
The most worrisome symptoms and risk factors include:
- Black stools.
- Weight loss.
- Significant and persistent nausea.
- Persistent early satiety.
- Progressive upper abdominal pain.
- Having multiple risk factors such as obesity, smoking, low-fiber diet, et.