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Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer, also referred to as gastric cancer, is a cancer that forms in tissues lining the stomach. According to the National Cancer Institute there were 21,000 new cases of stomach cancer reported in the United States in 2010.

Stomach cancer usually begins in cells in the inner layer of the stomach. Over time, the cancer may invade more deeply into the stomach wall. A stomach tumor can grow through the stomach’s outer layer into nearby organs, such as the liver, pancreas, esophagus, or intestine.

Symptoms

Symptoms of stomach cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Anemia
  • Blood in the stool
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent nausea
  • Weight loss

Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing stomach cancer include:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) infection
  • Genetics: family history of stomach cancer (first-degree relative)
  • Long-term inflammation of the stomach
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

When to See a Doctor

If you have any symptoms you are concerned about or if your symptoms persist, it’s time to see a doctor. Screening for stomach cancer is not routine and requires the expertise of a physician who has been trained to evaluate and diagnose conditions affecting the stomach.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for individuals with stomach cancer vary and may include the following:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Any combination of the above treatments

Diagnostic Testing

The foremost diagnostic “test” for any condition is a thorough exam and consultation with a physician, including a review of your individual and family history. In addition, your physician may recommend any of the following tests or procedures, which may provide further diagnostic value:

  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  • Endoscopy (with biopsy, if needed)
  • Imaging tests (which may include one or more of the following: ultrasound, x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan)

Prevention

The causes of stomach cancer are not clear, so it may not be preventable. You can take steps to reduce your risk of stomach cancer by making small changes to your everyday life such as:

  • Following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Reducing the amount of salty and smoked foods you eat
  • Smoking cessation
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Learn More

Learn more about stomach cancer with resources from the National Cancer Institute