Stomach cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the stomach. Stomach cancer can develop in any part of the stomach and spread to other organs through tumor growth, the bloodstream, or the lymphatic system.
There are five layers of tissue in the stomach. The innermost layer is called the mucosa and is where approximately 90% to 95% of stomach cancer begins. This type of tumor is called an adenocarcinoma.
Less common stomach cancers include lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system sometimes found in the stomach wall; gastric stomal tumors, which are tumors of the stomach wall; and carcinoid tumors, which are tumors of the hormone-producing cells of the stomach.
It is believed that stomach cancer takes several years to develop, and that many precancerous changes that rarely cause symptoms occur before stomach cancer develops. This is why most cases of stomach cancer are undetected until the later stages of the disease.