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—tumors of the stomach wall
- Carcinoid tumors—tumors of the hormone-producing cells of the stomach
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.
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:
- Abdominal pain or vague abdominal discomfort
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach bloating or sense of fullness after eating
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness, fatigue
- Bleeding in vomit or stool
- Stool that has turned black or tarry
- Unintended weight loss
- Fluid swelling in abdomen
In some cases, there may not be symptoms.
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:
- Endoscopic mucosal resection—This surgery is generally done in the early stages where the tumor is removed through an endoscope.
- Subtotal gastrectomy—This is the removal of the lower part of the stomach, leaving part of the stomach to reattached to the esophagus and small intestine.
- Total gastrectomy—This is the removal of the entire stomach. It 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.
In cases where stomach cancer has spread,
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.