Stomach Cancer: Patient Education

Cancer Facts

According to the American Cancer Society:

  • This is a disease that mostly affects older people. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 70.
  • Almost two thirds of people with stomach cancer are 65 or older.
  • The risk of a person developing stomach cancer in their lifetime is about 1 in 114, but it is slightly higher in men than in women.

According to the National Cancer Institute:

  • Each year in the United States, about 13,000 men and 8,000 women are diagnosed with stomach cancer. Most are over 70 years old.

Overview

Stomach cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in your stomach. The growing tumor can affect the function of your stomach as well as spread (metastasize) to other parts of your body. Stomach cancer is also known as gastric cancer.

Your stomach is a J-shaped hollow organ located in the upper part of your abdomen. It’s part of your digestive system. The food you eat is swallowed, moves down your esophagus, and enters your stomach, where it’s mixed with gastric juices and is digested. The food and gastric juice leave your stomach and enter the first part of your small intestine (duodenum).

Different types of cancers starting in your stomach have diverse symptoms with different treatment options.

How Stomach Cancer Starts

Cancer of the stomach generally begins in the inner layer of your stomach and then grows outward through the other layers. If it’s not detected early, it may spread through your stomach wall into your lymph nodes and other nearby organs. It may also spread into your lungs, liver and bones.

Types of Stomach Cancers

There are several kinds of stomach cancers:

  • Adenocarcinoma
    • About 90 to 95 percent of stomach cancers
    • Develops from the innermost lining of your stomach
  • Lymphoma
    • About 4 percent of stomach cancers
    • Develops from immune system tissue in your stomach wall
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
    • Uncommon
    • Some are noncancerous (benign); some are cancerous (malignant)
    • Can be found anywhere in your digestive tract
  • Carcinoid tumors
    • About 3 percent of stomach cancers
    • Develops in the hormone-making cells of your stomach

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