3/27/12

Can Excessive Burping Mean Cancer?

Believe it or not, frequent burping can be caused by several different cancers.
 A symptom as seemingly harmless as burping can actually be a sign of cancer. “Cancer can affect motility of the GI tract, increasing gas and belching either directly by invading the stomach, or by distal and hormonal effects affecting the motility of the upper GI tract,” says Dr. Maxwell Chait, MD, gastroenterologist at ColumbiaDoctors Medical Group in Westchester County, NY.

What cancers can lead to excessive burping?
“Cancers of the organs adjacent to the stomach such as stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, cancer of the liver and biliary tract and pancreas cancer all can do this,” says Dr. Chait.

“GERD is one of the most common causes of belching (burping) in the U.S. as well as Western Europe,” adds Dr. Chait. GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. 

“It is associated with a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. This is a premalignant disorder of the lower esophagus that is associated with cancer of the esophagus. This is one the fastest growing cancer by incidence in the U.S. Remarkably its highest incidence is in older white males.”

In other words, if you’ve been diagnosed with GERD, it’s absolutely mandatory that you take this seriously and don’t dismiss it as some harmless condition just because you’ve seen goofy TV commercials about “acid reflux.”

“GERD can be silent, especially in the older population who have reduced symptoms but often more severe disease. It can present with only upper abdominal pain or spasm. Nighttime GERD may go unnoticed except for poor sleeping and be associated with sleep apnea. Other important symptoms are difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing, chest pain, anemia, weight loss or intestinal bleeding. One should see their doctor if any of these symptoms occur.”


Excess burping can also be caused by a hiatal hernia.

A lot of burping may seem funny, but now you know that it can be a sign of cancer and thus warrants a medical checkup.



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