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Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: Stomach issues, bleeding ulcer or stomach cancer

 emendel - Fri Feb 07, 2003 6:59 pm

I am a 51 year-old male.

For the last 6 weeks or so, I have been experiencing some slight nausea with occasional discomfort in the stomach or abdominal area. Neither has been severe. I have not vomited, no visiible blood in my stool, my appetite has been fine, and have haf no significant weight loss.

Around 20-25 years ago, I was diagnoesed with a duodenal ulcer, for which I was prescribed carafate, which seemed to work well. More recently, I have been diagnosed with IBS. I have been taking Carafate again 4 times a day since those symptoms started, which has not helped too much.

My concern is as followe. My mother had surgery for a bleeding ulcer and also had colon cancer. I have been screened 2 times already with a colonoscopy, both times negative... no polops. I am due for my next one in a year and a half. My mother's sister, my aunt, actually passed away from stomach cancer. I am worried that with my family history, my current symptoms could be an early sign of a bleeding ulder, or worse, stomach cancer. I know I may be jumping the gun, but besides family history, I am also concerned since early stomach cancer symptoms can be quite vague, as the ones I have described. By the time more severe symptoms are displayed, it can often be too late.

I have spoken with my doctor, and he told me that an upper endoscopy would be the test to be performed to test for possible ulcers or stomach cancer. However, he also said that with my history of IBS, and since my stymptoms are far from severe (which I completely agree with.... at times I don't even know they're there, and at others, I feel slight discomfort), that I should just wait awhile (especially since they could be consistent with IBS). I did have some sharp pains yesterday afternoon above the navel after taking some Immodium AD in the morning to relieve some slight diahrrea. I just sloke with my doctor about that and he just said to monitor mysELf and if the severe pains continue or recur, then it may be cause for concern, and to let him know.

Right now I am basically feeling fine, with some very mild abdominal discomfort. The bottom line is... should I at all be concerned of the possibility of stomach cancer considering my family history and my current symptoms. I have no concern regarding colon cancer, due to the regular colonoscopies I have been having.

By the way, in order to rule out a bleeding ulcer, I am doing the stool check for occult blood.

Thank you,
 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Sun Feb 09, 2003 4:01 pm

User avatar Dear Emendel,

Thank you very much for using our website.

To answer your question, gastric cancer was found to be three times more in the first degree relatives of patients diagnosed with stomach cancer. So, if your mother or father had the stomach cancer, i would say that you had a higher risk of developping stomach cancer. Though, there is an entity called hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer that is considered one of the conditions associated or that predispose to stomach cancer and you said your mother had colon cancer. i am not a cancer specialist but i think that there is a genetic test that could be done to see whether you have the gene for the cancer or not.

There are other associated risk factors with developping stomach cancer though and i am going to mention a few as example:
1. Smoking.
2. Infection with Helicobacter pylori.
3. Low socio-econmic status.
4. Chronic inflammation of the stomach.
5. Certain dietary habits such as too much salty or pickled foods.

Now, if you have any concerns about it, just ask your doctor to refer you to have an endoscopy so that you rest assured and get it off your mind.

Once more, thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D.

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