Feeling full or early satiety symptoms are quite a common in stomach cancer. It tends to occur as the disease advances although there are other causes.
Normally the stomach accommodates large volumes of fluid and food. As cancers grow, that compliance is lost and the lumen becomes smaller due to the tumor growth.
As a result, you don’t just feel full, but can start to feel nauseous and subsequently vomit. Weight loss may have already been occurring, but this is exacerbated by your inability to take in food.
Yes, there are other causes of feeling full quickly and I have listed them in the table below for you.
The reasons for this are either issues with the stomach itself or from external compression.
You can see the investigations usually used in the diagnosis section. The main first investigations are endoscopy or barium meal along with routine blood testing. Further investigations would include ultrasound and CT imaging usually, depending on the outcome from your initial investigations. You can learn more about these invesitgations in the diagnosis section of this website.
This is always a difficult one. Ideally the main way of dealing with early satiety is through treatment of your tumor whether this is surgery or chemoradiotherapy.
You may find liquidising your food makes it is easier for your meal to pass through the upper gut. Taking high energy foods might also be an option.
Butter, milk, milkshakes, yoghurts, cheese, custard and ice cream are good calorific options.
Medicines known as prokinetics (such as domperidone and metoclopramide) may help improve gastric emptying and it is worth discussing this with your doctor.
Also, ask your doctor to review the drugs you are taking to make sure this isn't contributing to your symptoms.
Your doctor may recommend a nasogastric or NG tube (a feeding tube which bypasses the blocked area). This can be placed endoscopically or by radiologists. The tube is passed through your nose into the esophagus into your stomach. An NJ tube (Nasojejunal tube) is an extension of this and is placed in to the small bowel where your jejunum is. This bypasses the stomach where the obstruction is.
These methods allow an artificial, liquid feed to be used to supplement your food intake and can be given either day or at night when you're sleeping.
Occasionally stents are placed which open up your stomach to allow passage of sloppy foods. This depends on where your tumor is and whether you are going to have curative surgery or palliative care. You can learn more about this in the treatment section of this website.
If you have ascites or fluid in the abdomen compressing your stomach, removal of some of the fluid may also help improve your symptoms (find out more in the signs and symptoms section).
Finally, some surgeons will give you parenteral nutrition. This is a special form of nutrition given in to your blood via a central or PICC line. This is generally used when surgery is being contemplated.