Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Overview
Stomach cancer is part of a group of cancers, called gastrointestinal cancers, that affect the gastrointestinal tract and other organs contained within the digestive system.
Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the lining of the stomach. The stomach is part of the digestive system, located in the upper abdomen between the esophagus and the small intestine. It makes stomach acid and enzymes that digest food. The stomach is made of five different layers. In most cases, stomach cancer begins in the mucosa, the deepest layer.
Types of Stomach Cancer
Almost all (90-95%) stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas of the stomach. These cancers develop from the cells that form in the innermost lining of the stomach, the mucosa. Other types of stomach cancers include:
- Lymphoma. These are cancers of the immune system tissue that are sometimes found in the wall of the stomach. The type of lymphoma determines both the treatment and the prognosis (outlook).
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Rare tumors such as these start in special cells in the wall of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also known as the digestive tract. Not all tumors are cancerous. Although GISTs can be found anywhere in the digestive tract, most are found in the stomach.
- Carcinoid tumor. These tumors start in hormone-making cells of the stomach. Most of these tumors do not spread to other organs.
Stomach cancer can be hard to detect before it has progressed into later stages. The signs and symptoms vary based on the severity of the stage of the cancer.
While the cause of stomach cancer is uncertain, there are various factors that can increase your risk of developing the disease.
Detection & Diagnosis of Stomach Cancer
Routine screening isn't available for stomach cancer. However, there are some screening testing that doctors use to find stomach cancer at eariler stages including:
- Barium Swallow
- Upper Endoscopy
- Serum Pepsinogen
There are 4 different stages of stomach cancer. The stage of stomach cancer will help your oncologist determine the type of treatment you will receive.
The main treatment options for stomach cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy.