Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Stomach Cancer

(Gastric Cancer)

Definition

Stomach cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the stomach. There are 5 layers of tissue in the stomach. Types of cancer include:

Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer

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Causes  ^

Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Eventually these uncontrolled cells form a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths can invade nearby tissues including the lymph nodes. Cancer that has invaded the lymph nodes can then spread to other parts of the body.

It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but is probably a combination of genetics and environment.

Risk Factors  ^

Stomach cancer is more common in men, and in people aged 50 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chances of stomach cancer:

Symptoms  ^

In some people, stomach cancer may have no symptoms. In those that have them, stomach cancer may cause:

Diagnosis  ^

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests may include:

Imaging tests to evaluate the stomach and surrounding structures may include:

The physical exam, combined with all of your test results, will help to determine the type and stage of cancer you have. Staging is used to guide your treatment plan. Like other cancers, stomach cancer is staged from I to IV. Stage I is a very localized cancer, while stage IV indicates a spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment  ^

Cancer treatment varies depending on the stage and type of cancer. Stomach cancer is most often detected in the later stages. A combination of therapies may be more effective. For example, surgery may be used in conjunction with chemo- or radiation therapy.

Treatment options for stomach cancer include:

Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for stomach cancer. The type of surgery depends on the stage of the disease. There are 3 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 reattach 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.

Radiation Therapy

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.

Combined Treatment

In cases where stomach cancer has spread, chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy may increase the chance 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.

Prevention  ^

To help reduce your chances of stomach cancer:

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
https://www.cancer.org

National Cancer Institute
https://www.cancer.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

BC Cancer Agency
http://www.bccancer.bc.ca

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

REFERENCES:

Gastric carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116155/Gastric-carcinoma. Updated September 15, 2017. Accessed October 10, 2017.

General information about gastric cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach/patient/stomach-treatment-pdq#section/_1. Updated April 27, 2017. Accessed October 10, 2017.

Ménétrier disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/menetriers-disease. Updated March 2014. Accessed October 10, 2017.

Stomach cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomach-cancer.html. Accessed October 10, 2017.

4/29/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116155/Gastric-carcinoma: 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;141(1):80-89.

Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 9/30/2013