Former Interior Minister Gérard Collomb died last Saturday while suffering from stomach cancer. What do we know about the symptoms to be aware of today about this disease? The response from Dr Pauline Guillouche, gastroenterologist.
Gérard Collomb fought against stomach cancer
Last Saturday at the age of 76, the former Minister of the Interior and former mayor of Lyon, Gérard Collomb, died surrounded by his family. He announced a little over a year ago that he was suffering from stomach cancer. According to his wife, Gérard Collomb would have chosen to benefit from deep sedation, “when it became clear that his illness could not be improved by any anti-cancer treatment” she told AFP.
A cancer often discovered late
The stomach is an organ of the digestive system, located in the upper and middle part of the abdomen. In Europe, the number of new cases of stomach cancer was 6,557 in 2018, including 4,264 in men and 2,293 in women. The estimated number of deaths for the same year was 4,272, including 2,794 among men and 1,478 among women.
According to the National Cancer Institute, this cancer is associated with several risk factors “in particular, chronic gastritis mainly linked to infection by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, smoking, a diet rich in salty products and poor in fresh vegetables and fruits, a history of stomach cancer in the family or even an increasing genetic predisposition the risk of developing stomach cancer.”
But what also characterizes this pathology is its sad prognosis linked to its often late discovery. Despite progress in research, the five-year survival rate still remains low. Stomach cancer is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage because symptoms are not always understood early in the illness.
What are the symptoms to be aware of
For Dr Pauline Guillouche, gastroanterologist and member of our expert committee, the symptoms of stomach cancer can indeed be diffuse, but should in any case invite you to consult.
“In all cancers, there is already what we call an alteration in general condition, which generally includes three symptoms:
- Unusual fatigue;
- Weight loss without dieting;
- A lack of appetite, a loss of desire to eat ” she mentions.
But stomach cancer can cause other, more specific symptoms according to the gastroenterologist:
“People often complain about pain in upper abdomenin the epigastric region, a pain which can be different depending on the people and which can be similar to a kind of cramp, like a feeling of hunger (after they have just eaten) and above all it is a pain that does not go awayand which tends to increase over time.
Pain or discomfort may also take the form of difficulty after eating, a feeling of heaviness, a feeling of not digesting, or even the appearance of vomiting after eating. “It’s a sign that it’s no longer happening!” comments our expert.
When to consult?
Do you recognize these symptoms? Go to your doctor for a first approach. “As a general rule, unusual pain with weight loss and unusual fatigue should cause you to consult your primary care physician. If it comes from the stomach, he will refer you to the gastroenterologist who will make a diagnosis, via an esophago-gastro-duodenal fibroscopy to find out more” says our expert.
Don’t avoid the question either because you are too young to think about stomach cancer: if the average age of this cancer is 68 years, patients aged 30, 40 and 50 are now older. at risk than before, underlines a study conducted by doctors from the Mayo Clinic revealed in 2020.