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Regular heartburn, indigestion and weight loss warrants medical evaluation, says Dr Jitender Rohila

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Mohali, November 19, 2023: Cancer causes abnormal cell growth and can invade parts of the body. It affects people of all age groups and claims several lives every year. Cases of gastric or stomach cancer have also increased over the past few years. To raise awareness on this, November is observed as the Stomach Cancer Awareness Month every year.

Dr Jitender Rohila, Consultant, GI Surgical Oncology and Robotic Surgeon, Fortis Hospital Mohali, through an advisory sheds light on the causes, warning signs and ways to prevent stomach cancer.

What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer occurs when cells in the stomach lining grow abnormally and uncontrollably, leading to the formation of a tumor. This tumor can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Dr. Jitender Rohila explains, “As a critical component of the digestive system, the stomach aids in food digestion. When affected by cancer, this function can be significantly impaired, impacting an individual’s digestive health.”

Identifying the Causes?

Dr. Rohila identifies multiple factors that elevate the risk of developing stomach cancer. These include habitual use of tobacco products, a diet high in salt and low in fiber, frequent consumption of processed foods, excessive alcohol intake, obesity, and being over the age of 60. These risk elements collectively contribute to an increased likelihood of stomach cancer.

Recognizing the Warning Signs
Dr. Rohila highlights the key warning signs of stomach cancer, emphasizing the importance of recognizing symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain or burning sensation, frequent heartburn or indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diminished appetite, significant weight loss, abdominal bloating, unexplained fatigue, feeling full quickly, and the presence of black-colored stools, known as melena. These indicators are crucial for early detection and prompt medical attention.

Diagnosis & treatment
Dr. Rohila outlines the diagnostic process for stomach cancer, stating, “Stomach cancer can be identified using various methods including blood tests, endoscopy, and advanced imaging techniques like CT scans or PET scans. Prompt medical action is crucial upon noticing symptoms, as the cancer can rapidly progress. The primary treatment typically involves surgery, supplemented by chemotherapy and radiotherapy in certain cases, to effectively manage the condition.”

Prevention is better than cure
Dr. Rohila emphasizes the importance of prevention in combating stomach cancer, advising, “Adopting a lifestyle that includes a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, minimizing intake of salty and processed foods, avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and undergoing regular health screenings is crucial. Engaging in regular physical activity, ensuring a balanced diet, and seeking timely medical evaluation for any concerning symptoms are key strategies in reducing the risk of stomach cancer.”

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