Stomach cancer (also called gastric cancer) is a cancer that begins in the stomach. The most common type of stomach cancer is called gastric adenocarcinoma. There are more rare types of stomach cancer though 90-95% are adenocarcinomas. Gastric adenocarcinomas begin in the innermost lining of the stomach.1,2,3
In the United States, the average person’s risk for stomach cancer is less than 1%.4 Men are twice as likely as women to develop stomach cancer.1 Most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 55 to 74.4 Some hereditary cancer syndromes cause an increased risk for stomach cancer.1,2,3
General Risk Factors
- Job-related exposures to certain dusts and fumes
- Helicobacter pylori (a bacterium that can cause stomach inflammation and ulcers)
- Pernicious anemia (a condition that affects the body’s ability to make new red blood cells)
- Chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
- Stomach polyps
- Family history of cancer – having family members with gastric cancer raises the risk of gastric cancer, even in absence of a known hereditary cause
- Diagnosis of a genetic gastric cancer predisposition syndrome
Symptoms of stomach cancer can include poor appetite, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, feeling full or bloated after eating a small meal, severe and persistent heartburn or indigestion, persistent and unexplained nausea and vomiting, and swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen, blood in the stool or low red blood cell count.
In the United States, there is no standard or routine screening test for stomach cancer in the general population. If your doctor considers you to be at a higher risk than the average person for stomach cancer due to any of the risk factors mentioned above or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, he or she may recommend that you undergo certain screening or diagnostic tests, which can include an upper endoscopy. During this type of test a doctor can use an endoscope, a small lighted tube with a camera on the end, to view parts of the stomach. Biopsies (tissue samples) can be taken during this exam if needed. Other screening tests can include imaging exams and blood tests.
Stomach cancer is more common in areas of the world outside of the United States including Japan, China, Southern and Eastern Europe, and South and Central America
If stomach cancer is diagnosed following any of the tests above, treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer (how far the cancer has grown or spread). Treatment can include some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
AVOID THE FOLLOWING
- A diet high in salty and smoked foods
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Being very overweight; having too much body fat, particularly in men
- Heavy alcohol use
- American Society of Clinical Oncology: Gastric Cancer (http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/stomach-cancer)
- American Cancer Society: Gastric Cancer (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomachcancer/index)
- National Cancer Institute: Gastric Cancer treatment (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/gastric/Patient)
- SEER Cancer Stat Facts: Stomach Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/stomach.html
- Pharoah PD, et al. International Gastric Cancer Linkage Consortium. Incidence of gastric cancer and breast cancer in CDH1 (E-cadherin) mutation carriers from hereditary diffuse gastric cancer families. Gastroenterology. 2001 121:1348-53.