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:
It is believed that stomach cancer takes several years to develop. 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.
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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:
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to stomach cancer. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
In some cases, there may not be symptoms.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. She will also do a physical exam. Diagnostic tests may include:
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. There are three types of stomach surgery that may be done:
This is the use of high-energy rays to kill or shrink cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used after surgery to destroy cancer cells that could not be seen or removed during surgery.
In cases where stomach cancer has spread, chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy may increase the risk of survival and reduce the risk of cancer returning. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given in many forms including: pill, injection, or via a catheter. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells, but also some healthy cells.
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. Prevention includes:
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
BC Cancer Agency
Cancer Care Ontario
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Ménétrier disease. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/menetrier/ . Updated November 2008. Accessed December 14, 2009.
What you need to know about stomach cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.nci.nih.gov . Accessed December 1, 2009.
4/29/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Zhou Y, Zhuang W, Hu W, Liu GJ, Wu TX, Wu XT. Consumption of large amounts of allium vegetables reduces risk for gastric cancer in a meta-analysis. Gastroenterology. 2011 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print]
Last reviewed September 2013 by Igor Puzanov, MD
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 medical condition.
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