Certain diagnoses made in the medical field may sound very similar to one another to the untrained ear. Those who do not have a medical background like those who work in an immunity therapy center and hear about these various diagnoses may get confused. Colon cancer and gastric cancer are two types of diagnosis that are often confused for one another. They share some similarities, and that is part of what makes them difficult to tell apart for the various person. Fortunately, we have some information about both of these diagnoses and what they mean. In particular, we would like to focus on how the symptoms of colon cancer vs gastric cancer differ from one another.
What Is Colon Cancer?
The colon, sometimes referred to as the large intestine, is the final part of the digestive tract in human beings. This is where colon cancer begins. Its typical victims are of advanced age, though it can impact anyone of any age. The formation of colon cancer typically begins when non-cancerous polyps form in the colon. Those polyps start off as benign and pose no real threat to the patient. However, they develop over time into something much more serious and potentially life-threatening.
Doctors that specialize in medical oncology recommend that patients have regular colon or colorectal cancer screening sessions to try to detect the existence of polyps in the colon. The fact is, polyps rarely cause many symptoms on their own, and this is why doctors are so adamant that patients get themselves checked out on a routine basis. The early detection of the formation of polyps can allow doctors to determine the stages of colon cancer the patient is currently in and take action to treat the patient in ways that are more effective.
The symptoms of colon cancer may include, but are not limited to:
- Rectal bleeding, blood in the stool
- Abdominal discomfort that does not go away
- Rapid weight loss
- A change in bowel habits
These symptoms are often present with many other types of ailments as well, and that is part of the reason why it is so challenging to pinpoint something as being colon cancer when there are truly so many potential other options. So, is colon cancer treatable? Yes, it definitely is. That is why it is so important to get checked by a doctor.
What Is Gastric Cancer?
Gastric cancer, sometimes referred to simply as stomach cancer, is the formation of cancer cells that begin in the stomach. This cancer type may begin in any part of the stomach, though it often forms in what is known as the “main part” of the stomach in most parts of the world. This is the stomach body. However, in the United States, doctors have observed that gastric cancer is far more likely to form in the esophagus or long tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. It is unclear why Americans are more likely to form cancer in this area than in the main part of their stomach like the rest of the world, but those are the observations that doctors that specialize in medical oncology have made.
There are treatment options for gastric cancer, with most of those cancer treatment options requiring surgery of some kind. Surgical removal of the cancer is the treatment option most commonly recommended by doctors.
- Difficulty swallowing
- Stomach pain
- Feeling full even after eating small amounts of food
It is quite common to experience many of these symptoms at the same time when dealing with gastric cancer. However, it is also true that these symptoms may be a sign of something other than gastric cancer. As such, it is necessary to have a doctor examine you to see what may be contributing to those symptoms. You do not have to panic just because you have experienced some heartburn lately, but you also should discount it as nothing to worry about. There can be a happy medium somewhere in between those two ideas. Just get yourself checked out to be on the safe side.
How Symptoms of Both Cancers are Similar
There is some crossover between the symptoms of colon cancer vs gastric cancer. For example, the symptom of feeling full even after eating just a small amount of food could also lead to rapid weight loss. Therefore, one may have to ask themselves which symptom they are truly experiencing and what it was caused by. In other words, did they lose the weight because they have not been eating as much, or did the weight loss make them lose their appetite?
It can be challenging to parse out which symptoms caused what and when they were first experienced. To add to the confusion, there are some symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion that apply to both types of cancers. Therefore, it is always a bad idea to attempt to self-diagnose yourself no matter what. It is even worse to attempt to self-diagnosis something as serious as which form of cancer you may have. Do NOT do that.
How Are Their Symptoms Different?
There are absolutely some differences in the symptoms that one experiences with colon cancer vs gastric cancer. If someone is going through rectal bleeding and/or blood in their stool, they are likely looking at issues with their colon. There are instances of stomach bleeds, but it is much more common to experience a colon bleed that causes such symptoms. Thus, it is pretty important to spot the differences between colon cancer symptoms and symptoms of gastric cancer. They are not the same, and it is wise to be up to date on how they differ.
Gastric cancer is much more likely to exhibit itself in the form of things like nausea and vomiting. Those are two side-effects that most people are familiar with from some point in their life. Many things can cause nausea and vomiting such as the overconsumption of food or drink. Nearly all of us are guilty of that at some point in our lives, and thus may be more attuned to what feeling nauseous is like. That doesn’t mean that you nausea is definitely a sign of gastric cancer, but it may be one of the symptoms if you do actually have gastric cancer.
Risk Factors For Colon Cancer
To have a better sense of your chances of potentially experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer, you should know some of the risk factors for developing this disease as well as steps you can take on how to prevent colon cancer. The more risk factors that you have, the higher you chances of potentially developing colon cancer.
Low Fiber Diet – Western diets are often very high in fat and low in important nutrients such as fiber. The research is not completely clear on how strong the link is between a low-fiber diet and an increased colon cancer risk, but it is known that there may be some connection between the two.
An Inactive Lifestyle – People who do not get out and exercise much are at an increased risk for many different health concerns. This includes an increased risk of developing colon cancer. Doctors will always recommend that their patients get out and take in some exercise whenever they possibly can. Doing so can literally help to save their life and stave off illnesses.
Diabetes – Diabetics have an increased risk of developing colon cancer (among other concerns).
African-American Race – Research is still progressing as to why African-Americans are more prone to developing colon cancer or rectal cancer than the rest of the population, but it is known that this racial group is at an increased risk.
Alcohol Use – Excessive use of alcohol leads to an increased risk of developing colon cancer.
Risk Factors For Gastric Cancer
Knowing what puts you at a higher risk for gastric cancer may help awaken you to make some changes to your lifestyle where you can to potentially lower some of those risks.
Long-Term Stomach Inflammation – Those who have a long-term case of stomach inflammation (also known as gastritis) may be at an increased risk of developing stomach gastric cancer.
Smoking – Those who are active smokers may find themselves at an increased risk of gastric cancer as well.
Family History Of Stomach Cancer – Unfortunately, there are genetic factors that play a role in the development of gastrointestinal cancer. Thus, if you have a family history of stomach cancer to contend with, then you may discover that you are a higher risk for GIcancer than the average person. This is something to watch out for as well.
There are plenty of similarities between the risk factors for colon cancer and gastric cancer, and the ones listed here at not the full list of potential risk factors. However, they give you an idea that there are a combination of factors within your control and some that are not within your control that may contribute to your likelihood of developing these forms of cancer. With that in mind, perhaps you will take some time to make changes to your lifestyle where you can to reduce your risks of developing different types of cancer including colon cancer, gastric cancer, and even mesothelioma. Additionally, try to get yourself in to see a doctor if you have any concerns at all about the potential development of colon cancer or gastric cancer in your life.
Written By: Dr. Adolfo Carrillo
Dr. Adolfo Carrillo is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Carrillo has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista for over 5 years as a treating physician at the Immunity the Immunity Therapy Center. Dr. Carrillo is a charismatic Doctor whose knowledge and commitment to patient care and bringing healing to patients is a valuable asset to our center.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.