Cancer describes what happens when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way in the body. There are more than 200 different types of cancer so the symptoms vary depending on where the cancer started and where it has spread to in the body. The one commonality connecting different cancers is the importance of early intervention, which will greatly improve how well you respond to treatment.
This is easier said than done, however, because a lot of cancer symptoms seem innocuous on the surface, they are easily confused with less serious conditions.
Hiccups are a prime example of a cancer symptoms that can easily be shrugged off as a less serious condition.
According to Cancer research UK, hiccups that go on for longer and make you tired may signal cancer.
Which cancer causes hiccups?
According to Macmillan UK, regular hiccups may be a sign of stomach cancer, a type of cancer that usually begins in the mucus-producing cells that line the stomach.
READ MORE: Cancer symptoms: Sweating at night could be a warning sign of this type of cancer
It is still important to get the check by a GP, however, because if they’re caused by cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable, warns the NHS.
How long should I leave it before seeing a GP?
The health body says to see your GP if you have:
- Any of these symptoms that get worse or do not get better after three weeks
- A condition that causes symptoms like these, and your symptoms are not getting better after three weeks of using your usual treatments
- Problems swallowing
- A lump in your tummy
“The GP may refer you to see a specialist in hospital for more tests if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated,” explains the health site.
It adds: “This may be an urgent referral, usually within two weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.”
Am I at risk?
It’s not always clear what causes it, but certain factors may influence your likelihood of getting stomach cancer.
One major risk factor is age, with around half of stomach cancers developing in people aged 75 or over, explains Cancer Research UK.
Age may be an immutable risk factor but there a number of lifestyle decisions that may raise your risk too.
Smoking tobacco increases your risk of getting stomach cancer, for example, accounting for around one in five cases in the UK, says Cancer Research UK.
As an added incentive to quit smoking, your risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked a day, warns the charity.
In addition, some occupations and working with particular chemicals can increase your risk of stomach cancer, such as working in the rubber production industry, notes the health body.
There is also some research linking exposure to asbestos and inorganic lead compounds to stomach cancer, however this evidence is limited, adds the health site.
Other lifestyle factors include:
- Having too much salt in your diet
- Drinking too much alcohol – find tips for cutting down on alcohol
- Not eating enough fruit and vegetables – find out how to get your five-a-day
- Eating a lot of processed meat (such as ham, bacon and salami)
- Being overweight