Toby Keith / Facebook
Physicians noted that symptoms may not manifest immediately, yet typical signs encompass heartburn or acid reflux.
Country music legend Toby Keith passed away Monday night (Feb. 5) after a courageous battle with stomach cancer. He was 62 years old.
Toby first shared his diagnosis in 2021 and took a hiatus from performing to prioritize treatment and cherished moments with his loved ones.
In the wake of Toby Keith’s passing, doctors are emphasizing the importance of recognizing the signs of stomach cancer, which can include heartburn, acid reflux, anemia, nausea, and ulcers.
“A lot of these things are relatively innocuous. But of course, with a cancer, that’s how it gets you,” stated Dr. Fabian Johnston, the division chief of gastrointestinal oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Johnston mentioned that both doctors and patients might overlook symptoms such as acid reflux, mistakenly considering them benign, which could result in delayed diagnoses. He noted that by the time symptoms manifest, numerous individuals may already have advanced-stage disease.
In its initial stages, stomach cancer may not always present symptoms. However, when they do occur, they can include indigestion and upper abdominal pain. Symptoms may nit manifest until the cancer has progressed. Advanced stages of stomach cancer may lead to fatigue, unintentional weight loss, vomiting blood, and the presence of black stools.
Included below are the potential signs and symptoms of stomach cancer:
- Trouble swallowing
- Belly pain
- Feeling bloated after eating
- Feeling full after eating small amounts of food
- Not feeling hungry when you would expect to be hungry
- Losing weight without trying
- Feeling very tired
“There’s something that’s going on — something we’re eating, something we’re ingesting, some combination of factors that’s modern and present — which is resulting in these increased cancer in young people,” said Dr. Ben Schlechter, a gastrointestinal medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Schlechter pointed out that alcohol and tobacco, once major factors contributing to stomach cancer, are now linked to only a minority of cases in the U.S., possibly due to reduced smoking rates.
He also noted that stomach cancer tends to be particularly aggressive when compared to other types of cancer.
“It doesn’t mean that people are imminently dying. I just means that the tools that we have to cure them are pretty limited. People do pretty well compared to 15 years ago, but we are hardly at the level of, say, breast cancer, where the commanding majority of people are cured with surgery and chemotherapy and things like that.”
To reduce the risk of stomach cancer, Mayo Clinic suggests the following prevention measure:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Try to include them in your diet each day.
- Reduce the amount of salty and smoked foods you eat. Protect your stomach by limiting these foods.
- Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk of stomach cancer and many other types of cancer.
- Tell your healthcare provider if stomach cancer runs in your family. Screening tests can detect stomach cancer before it causes symptoms.
Toby Keith established the Toby Keith Foundation, which provides assistance to the OK Kids Korral, offering a comforting haven for families with children battling cancer.
To honor Toby’s memory, you can contribute by visiting the Toby Keith Foundation’s official website here.