STOMACH cancer affects thousands of people every year – experts believe up to 7,000 people receive a diagnosis of the disease every year in the UK.
The organ helps to digest food and can expand to hold around one litre of food, experts suggest.
Stomach cancer is more common among men and those who are over the age of 55.
It is also more likely to occur in smokers, people who are overweight or obese, people with a diet low in fibre and high in processed food or red meat.
People who eat a lot of salt and pickled food can also be at risk of the disease.
Macmillan Cancer Support said: “Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) – a common stomach infection can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer if it’s present over a long time.”
NHS Choices said there are several types of stomach cancer, although more than 95 per cent of cancers develop in the cells of the stomach lining and known as adenocarcinomas.
The early symptoms of stomach cancer are similar to the symptoms of some common stomach conditions.
These can include heartburn or indigestion which is persistent.
Indigestion or heartburn – also knowns as dyspepsia – can sometimes be a symptom of pancreatic cancer.
Other symptoms can include burping a lot, having no appetite and feeling full after eating only a small amount of food.
Weight loss is also a key symptom of the condition.
Other symptoms can include pain and swelling in the abdominal area or feeling or being sick.
Some people even experience difficulty swallowing and blood in your stools.
Endoscopies, also known as gastroscopies are the most common tests used to check for signs of stomach cancer.
An endoscope, which is also used to detect bowel cancer, is a thin flexible tube with a camera at the end.
The procedure commonly takes around ten minutes – although people can’t eat or drink for several hours before the test.
This study highlights how weight gain over the course of our lives can increase the risk of developing these two cancer types
A study, published in the British Journal of Cancer revealed those who reported being overweight at the age of 20 were about 60 to 80 per cent more likely to develop stomach cancer in later life compared to people who maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking and contributes to around 18,100 cases of cancer every year.
Researchers found people who gained more than three stone (20kg) during adulthood were also twice as likely to develop oesophageal cancer compared to people who had little weight change.
“This study highlights how weight gain over the course of our lives can increase the risk of developing these two cancer types, both of which have extremely poor survival,” said Dr Jessica Petrick, study author.