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.
The exact cause of stomach cancer is not known. There are, however, several well-known risk factors that contribute to the development of stomach cancer.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The risk factors for stomach cancer include:
Age: over 50
Gender: twice as common in men
Geography: Japan, Korea, parts of Eastern Europe, and Latin America experience higher rates
Race: higher rates in Hispanics and African-Americans
Diet: smoked, salted, pickled food and meat, high starch/low fiber foods
Stomach cancer is most often detected in the later stages. Stomach cancer is treated based on the location, size, stage, and extent of disease. Treatment options for stomach cancer include:
Surgery is the most common treatment for stomach cancer. The type of surgery depends on the stage of the disease and can vary from removing the tumor and part of the stomach, to removing the entire stomach.
There are three types of stomach surgery that may be performed:
Endoscopic mucosal resection—This surgery is generally performed in the early stages where the tumor is removed through an endoscope.
Subtotal gastrectomy—This procedure removes the lower part of the stomach, leaving part of the stomach to be reattached to the esophagus and small intestine.
Total gastrectomy—This is the removal of the entire stomach and often includes removal of nearby lymph nodes. The esophagus is attached directly to the small intestine.
This is the use of high-energy rays to kill or shrink cancer cells.
may be used after surgery to destroy cancer cells that could not be seen or removed during surgery.
Combined Modality Treatment
A recent study showed that patients with high-risk stomach cancer (positive lymph nodes or spread through the stomach wall by tumor) are best served by surgery followed by both
and radiation therapy. This combined modality approach results in best survival and least likelihood of cancer returning.
The rate of stomach cancer has declined over the past 60 years due in large part to dietary factors. The change from salting and pickling foods to refrigerating foods for preservation is thought to have played a large role in this decrease.
Avoid diets high in salted, pickled, and smoked foods.
Eat at least five servings of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods a day.
Limit red meat intake.
Limit alcohol intake.
Don’t use tobacco.
Research is underway to determine if treating
infections lessens the risk of stomach cancer.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a