Abdominal pain in stomach cancer is a common symptom, particularly in the latter stages of the disease.
There are various causes for this and I will explain these to you. The important thing to remember is that it is a symptom and one which should be treated appropriately by your doctor with the right level of analgesia that you require.
So, what causes symptoms?
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Dyspepsia is a term used by doctors to describe pain or discomfort symptoms attributable to the upper gastrointestinal tract.
It is often used synonymously with indigestion, but this is not the case. In gastric malignancies for example, dyspepsia can arise from the tumor itself or from excess acidity.
This form is likely to be helped by simple analgesics and acid suppressants such as the PPI or proton pump inhibitors, commonly used ones being omeprazole and lansoprazole.
As your tumor extends from the stomach to local lymph nodes, these glands enlarge and can cause pain which again is rather non-specific.
If the tumor perforates or 'puts a hole in the wall', this can cause a condition known as peritonitis which can make you ill.
This sort of abdominal pain in stomach cancer will require opiate drugs, for example morphine and diamorphine to control symptoms usually.
If you develop secondary tumors in your liver, you can experience symptoms in the right upper abdomen which can also be experienced between your shoulder blades.
This is due to stretching or involvement of the liver capsule. The capsule is a membrane that encases the liver.
The peritoneum is a membrane that lines the abdomen.
Tumor deposits can occur on this membrane giving rise to generalised abdominal pain in stomach cancer sufferers.
Deposits can occur in your bones. When these occur in your spine, they can cause collapse of the spinal bones which then pinch the nerves.
In the lower back, the nerves pass around to the front of your abdomen and in what are known as dermatomes.
This can cause symptoms of abdominal as well as back pain. This is normally treated with anti-inflammatory drugs (if able) and radiotherapy to the spine.
Ascites in stage 4 is not uncommon. This fluid builds up in your abdomen and can be very uncomfortable.
When this occurs, pain can not only arise from the fluid and distension, but also the fluid can become infected.
When this happens, it is known as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and this is normally treated with antibiotics.
The type of treatment you have really depends on the cause.
I will provide a section on pain relief options in the stage 4 section for you.
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