About Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the stomach, an organ that holds and digests food with gastric secretions and muscular contractions.
The vast majority (90 to 95 percent) of stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas, which typically forms in the glandular cells of the inner stomach lining.
Other rare types of cancer found in the stomach include:
Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
Screening for stomach cancer is not currently recommended for the general population, but high risk groups, like those with gastric polyps or certain inherited stomach conditions, should discuss early detection options with their doctors.
Stomach cancer symptoms can include:
  • Poor appetite or feeling full after eating a small amount of food
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdominal region, particularly above the navel
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Nausea or frequent vomiting
  • Bloody or black stools
While many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, early stomach cancer detection is critical to successful treatment. If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor for further evaluation.
Risk Factors of Stomach Cancer
Risk factors associated with stomach cancer include:
  • Age: The chance of getting stomach cancer increases with age, particularly over the age of 50.
  • Diet: A diet high in processed foods (such as cured meats, smoked fishes and pickled vegetables) may elevate stomach cancer risk, while a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables may lower it.
  • Certain Diseases and Conditions:
    • BRCA1 / BRCA2 mutations: People carrying mutations in these genes have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer.
    • Chronic gastritis: Prolonged inflammation of the stomach that can lead to cancerous changes in the stomach lining.
    • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): This condition, caused by mutations in the APC gene, causes polyp development in the stomach, small intestine and colon, elevating cancer risk in those organs.
    • Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection: H pylori is a bacteria that can cause inflammation and cancerous changes in the stomach’s inner lining, so infection with this germ can significantly raise one’s stomach cancer risk.
    • Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer: A mutation in the CDH1 gene that greatly elevates stomach cancer risk, people with this condition have a 70 to 80 percent chance of developing stomach cancer during their lifetime.
    • Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC): Also called Lynch Syndrome, HNPCC is caused by genetic mutations in several genes (most commonly MLH1 and MSH2) that increase stomach and colorectal cancer risk.
    • Intestinal Metaplasia: A stomach cancer risk-elevating condition in which the stomach undergoes abnormal cellular changes, ultimately resembling small intestine or colon cells.
    • Pernicious anemia: People with this condition do not make enough of a substance needed for vitamin B12 absorption, which leads to anemia as well as a higher risk for developing stomach cancer.
    • Stomach polyps: While most stomach polyps are and remain benign, some of them can develop into cancer.
  • Ethnicity: Stomach cancer is more common in Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders than in non-Hispanic whites.
  • Family history: First-degree relatives (parents, siblings or children) of someone with stomach cancer have a higher risk of developing this disease as well.
  • Gender: Men are more likely than women to get stomach cancer.
  • Stomach surgery: People who have had previous stomach surgery are more likely to develop stomach cancer.
  • Tobacco Use: Compared to non-smokers, smokers are twice as likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of stomach cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.
If you have been diagnosed with stomach cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute