Toby Keith’s Death Provides Wake-Up Call to Realities of Stomach Cancer

Posted By Author on March 20, 2024

Country music fans mourned the loss of singer-songwriter Toby Keith after he died in early February at the age of 62 from stomach cancer. 

According to the statement made on Keith’s website, “Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5, surrounded by his family.” The statement continues, “He fought his fight with grace and courage.” Keith had been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments after his stomach cancer diagnosis in fall 2021. He did not make the official announcement to the public until the summer of 2022. 

With the loss of a country music legend comes a wake-up call to the often difficult-to-diagnose illness. From symptoms to treatment, here’s what you should know about stomach cancer, according to our Charleston GI doctors. 

After Toby Keith’s Stomach Cancer, What Should I Know About this Disease?

According to the American Cancer Society, stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer) is one of the most common cancers worldwide, with over 26,000 new cases occurring this year–and we are only a few months into 2024! 

Many factors can affect the risk of developing stomach cancer, including: 

  • Diet 
  • Activity level 
  • Stomach-related surgery 
  • Family medical history 
  • Sex (men have a higher risk)
  • Age (typically affects people 60 years of age and older)  

Having a risk factor, or even many, does not always equal a stomach cancer diagnosis. Many people with one or more risk factors never get cancer, while others with no known risk can develop it. 

Staying Alert to the Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Cancer 

Just as a fever can indicate a common cold, symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. Unfortunately, not all diseases and illnesses express themselves through symptoms. Some show no indication of a problem until more advanced stages develop. 

Early stages of stomach cancer don’t always result in obvious symptoms or signs. Symptoms of early-stage stomach cancer can include: 

  • Indigestion and stomach pain 
  • Feeling bloated after eating 
  • Heartburn 
  • Loss of appetite 

More advanced cases of stomach cancer can lead to clearer symptoms of a gastric issue, including: 

  • Blood in the stool 
  • Vomiting 
  • Weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin and/or eyes (jaundice) 
  • Fluid build-up in the abdomen 

Trusting your gut and listening to your body is half the battle when it comes to early detection. Even if symptoms may be unrelated to stomach cancer, discuss any irregularities with one of the GI doctors near you. 

How is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed and Treated? 

Before our gastroenterology specialists can even begin to treat stomach cancer, we have to diagnose it first. 

Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

Diagnosing stomach cancer starts and ends with the stomach. Our GI doctors will take a look inside the stomach using a thin tube with a tiny camera attached that is passed down the throat and into the stomach. This procedure is called an upper endoscopy. 

During an upper endoscopy, if your doctor finds something that looks like cancer, it will be removed and sent to a lab for further testing. 

Stomach Cancer Treatment 

Treatment options for stomach cancer vary from person to person. Our GI doctors in Charleston, SC will determine the stage and location of the cancer – as well as overall health and preferences – and use that information to form a treatment plan. 

Typical treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, and palliative care. The latter is a special type of healthcare using symptom management, support, and other treatment forms to help you feel better and improve your quality of life. 

Get Help with Stomach Cancer Prevention at Charleston GI 

Stomach cancer, like many types of cancer, has the potential to be debilitating to your physical and mental well-being. As one of the Charleston gastroenterology clinics in the Lowcountry, our goal is to get to the root of your gastric issues, whether that be the early stages of stomach cancer or another underlying GI condition. 

We have four convenient Charleston area locations to choose from, West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads.

There’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment today, with Charleston GI!