Woman with excessive burping diagnosed with cancer: Here’s what a doctor wants you to know

Does burping and cancer have a connection? Latest news about a Florida woman who suffered a belching bouts for two years, has raised a concern. So, we asked a doctor about it.

Burping and colon cancer
What's the link between burping and colon cancer? Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Radhika Bhirani Updated: 2 May 2023, 20:29 pm IST
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Burping may seem something as natural as a yawn, sneeze or fart. But experts will tell you that it is worth a doctor’s visit if it turns chronic beyond 2-3 weeks! A latest revelation by a 24-year-old Florida nurse  has steered more attention towards this common act. She has spoken about how non-stop burping for at least two years turned out to be a “vague symptom” of colon cancer in her case,

Bailey McBreen began noticing her unusual burping in 2021. She told online portal NeedToKnow about how she began burping 5 to 10 times a day and found it “weird” because it’s something she would rarely do. Still, she kept dismissing her burping bouts until early 2022 when she suffered an acid reflux episode. While she claims doctors said it was due to anxiety, things took a more serious turn when she began developing pain, loss of appetite and other constipation issues.

The young medical professional has clarified that “excessive burping isn’t your textbook sign of colon cancer”, but her oncologist did not rule it out as the onset of either cancer or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms.

Signs why you may burp
Burping is healthy, but not when it happens in excess. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is burping?

It is typically one of the body’s ways of expelling gas from the upper digestive tract. Some people may do it after every heavy meal or to relieve bloating, while many may do it if they swallow air while eating or drinking. There may be many causes of burping or belching, but it can cause discomfort if it happens too often.

“Burping is not an absolutely trivial or insignificant occurrence, and more so if it happens suddenly and too frequently. There should be adequate awareness that if any atypical or non-specific symptom persists for over 2 to 3 weeks, can be a sign of hidden cancer,” Dr Sundeep Jain, Director, GI and HPB Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Jaipur, tells Health Shots.

By itself, burping may not be a symptom of cancer. But if it occurs along with other symptoms, it should alert you!

Know more about colon cancer

The World Health Organization recognises colon cancer or colorectal cancer as the third most common cancer type worldwide. As per 2020 records, almost 2 million cases were diagnosed. It is also said to be the second most common cause of cancer death.

Gastrointestinal or abdominal cancers include cancers of the esophagus, stomach pancreas, liver, gallbladder, colon and rectum. If a certain type of cancer interferes with the gastrointestinal tract, it can cause excessive burping. Having said that, burping is not always a sign of cancer.

“These cancers many times present with atypical symptoms which are also seen in many benign diseases of the abdomen. This is an important reason for missing these cancers in their early stages,” adds Dr Jain.

If not the uncommon symptoms, you must be aware of some of the common signs of colon cancer.

Colon cancer
Colorectal cancer impacts the colon and rectum. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Early diagnosis is important for cancer

According to the expert, people need to change their approach towards health issues.

“We must not only ask for relief from symptom but rather seek a diagnosis by getting specific tests like ultrasound abdomen or endoscopy in such cases. We must not shy away in taking second opinion in case the problem is not getting diagnosed and you don’t get relief,” he adds.

Click here to check out the tests for colorectal cancer for a timely diagnosis.

When such cancers are diagnosed in advanced stages (stage 3 and 4), the cure in many is either not possible or too long. There may also be a high risk of recurrence, complications related to treatment modalities like chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, and high cost of the treatment.

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About the Author
Radhika Bhirani Radhika Bhirani

Radhika Bhirani is a journalist with close to 15 years of experience in the Indian media industry. After writing extensively on health, lifestyle and entertainment, she leads the English content team at Health Shots. She has a special interest in writing on mental health and wellness. ...Read More

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