Stomach cancer is a ruthless disease that strikes roughly 12 new people each day. It has many symptoms that can be hard to spot and others that are easy to mix up with some other health problem. According to The University of Kansas Cancer Center, it’s often only spotted by the time spread around the body. One patient’s case study shows the danger of what happens when the diagnosis comes too late.
The 39-year-old man died just a week after going to the hospital for a hernia in his groin.
It turned out he had advanced stomach cancer that had been spreading to several parts of his body.
The doctors, who published their case report in the Annals of Medicine and Surgery, said the patient first arrived at the hospital and complained about 3 months of swelling in the right side of his groin.
He didn’t show any other typical and obvious symptoms of stomach cancer, such as difficulty swallowing or abdominal pain – although he had lost his appetite and some weight.
But when doctors brought the man into surgery to fix his hernia, they found something worrying. A cyst was found behind a testicle.
The cyst was just one piece of evidence that cancer has spread around his body.
Several tests revealed many areas of his body that had been attacked by the disease.
For example, A CT scan also revealed he had multiple metastases in his liver, while a biopsy confirmed that he had a tumour on the tissue lining his tummy.
The authors of the study confirmed: “The patient’s nutritional and clinical situation were not improved due to the advanced stage of the tumour.
“The patient died within one week of the initial diagnosis.”
Hernia: is it a cancer warning sign?
Hernias aren’t a major sign of stomach cancer, but according to researchers, it may be evidence that cancer has done damage to your tissues.
A hernia is a bulge caused by some part of your body, such as fatty tissue, pushing against a weak part of a muscle or other tissue. Hernias can be extremely painful, especially when you cough or bend over.
One study, published in the journal Frontiers in Surgery, explains that hernias aren’t necessarily a direct effect of stomach cancer but can be “due to its consequences” such as increased pressure in the abdomen.
According to the charity Cancer Research UK, the “most common symptoms” of the disease include difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss, and tummy pain.
The other symptoms that may occur include the following:
- indigestion (dyspepsia) that doesn’t go away
- feeling full after eating small amounts
- a loss of appetite
- feeling or being sick
- dark poo
- tiredness due to low levels of red blood cells (anaemia)
The difficulty swallowing may show up as a “burning sensation” when you swallow, explains the charity.
It also explains that “food may stick in your throat or chest”.
It added: “Other conditions could cause these symptoms, but it is important to get these checked by your doctor.”
The vomiting that people with stomach cancer may experience is due to the stomach being blocked by cancer. Food cannot pass through your digestive system, which makes you feel sick.
The NHS explains that indigestion may feel like heartburn or cause you to burp or hiccup more than usual.
It says: “Speak to a GP if you get any of these symptoms regularly and are not sure why you’re getting them.”