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About Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, was once the leading cause of death in the United States. While no longer at the top of the list, in 2012, the disease is still expected to claim an estimated 10,540 lives, and another 21,320 new cases will be diagnosed.1
Stomach cancer primarily affects older people. The average age of people diagnosed with the disease is 70. Almost two-thirds of those with stomach cancer are 65 or older.2
Methodist Cancer Center is dedicated to providing the resources you need for the diagnosis and treatment of stomach cancer.
What is Stomach Cancer?
Cancer is the result of a mutation that causes otherwise normal cells to grow at an abnormal rate. A buildup of extra cells in the lining of the stomach can result in the formation of tumors, which may be either malignant or benign.
Stomach cancer typically develops slowly over many years, starting with pre-cancerous changes in the stomach’s lining. Because these early changes rarely cause symptoms, they often go undetected. Once diagnosed, it can be difficult to treat stomach cancer because it may have reached an advanced stage.
Stomach cancers can metastasize, or spread, by growing through the wall of the stomach and invading nearby organs, by spreading to nearby lymph nodes or by traveling through the bloodstream to other areas of the body such as the liver, bones, lungs and ovaries.
The information here focuses on adenocarcinoma, by far the most common type of stomach cancer. Adenocarcinoma develops in the innermost layer of the stomach’s lining and spreads through the outer two layers as it grows. Other less common types of stomach cancers include lymphoma, gastric sarcoma (also known as gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) and carcinoid tumors.
What Are the Risk Factors?
While the exact cause of stomach cancer is unknown, researchers have linked it to many risk factors:
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- Long-term inflammation of the stomach
- Diet Related
- Diets high in salted, smoked foods, pickled vegetables, and foods/beverages containing nitrates and nitrites
- Diets low in fresh fruits and vegetables
- Alcohol use
- Family or personal history of stomach cancer
- Nonpolyposis colon cancer (Lynch syndrome)
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Menetrier's disease
- Previous stomach surgery
- History of stomach polyps
- Age 55 or older
- Male gender (stomach cancer is more common in men than women)
- Type A blood
- Pernicious anemia
- Exposure to environmental factors
Learn more about stomach cancer:
· Diagnosing Stomach Cancer
· Treating Stomach Cancer
· Stomach Cancer Resources
· Stomach Cancer Clinical Trials
For more information about stomach cancer treatment at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-790-2700.
1 National Cancer Institute
2 American Cancer Society