Stomach cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the stomach. There are five layers of tissue in the stomach. Types of cancer include:
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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.
Stomach cancer is more common in men, and in people aged 50 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chance of stomach cancer include:
In some people, stomach cancer may have no symptoms. In those that have them, stomach cancer may cause:
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-IV. Stage I is a very localized cancer, while stage IV indicates a spread to other parts of the body.
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 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.
To help reduce your chance of stomach cancer:
Last reviewed August 2014 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.