Gastric cancer is also known as stomach cancer.

Types of Gastric Cancer:

  • Adenocarcinoma: Most (85%) of stomach cancers, found in the stomach lining(mucosa)
  • Lymphoma: Arise from the immune system and found in the stomach wall
  • Carcinoid tumors- Arise in the stomach’s hormone producing cells. These don’t typically spread to other organs.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)- These can be found throughout the digestive tract but most commonly in the stomach. They are rare tumors from early cell forms of the stomach wall.
  • Rare types- These include squamous cell carcinoma, small cell carcinoma and leiomyosarcoma.

Locations of Gastric Cancer

  • The most common type of gastric cancer starts in the stomach lining (mucosa)
  • About 40% of gastric cancers are in the lower part of the stomach (pylorus) which acts as a valve controlling the emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine
  • 40% of gastric cancers develop in the middle part of the stomach (body)
  • 15% of gastric cancers are in the upper part of the stomach (cardia) This is closest to the esophagus.
  • 10% of gastric cancers develop in more than one part of the stomach

Stomach cancer can metastasize (spread) to the esophagus, small intestine, liver, pancreas, and colon. It can spread to neighboring lymph nodes and distant parts of the body like lungs, bones and ovaries.

Incidence of Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related death in the world. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), about 760,000 cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed worldwide and 24,590 cases in the United States annually.

 

Incidence is:

  • Highest in Japan, South America and Eastern Europe
  • More common over age 55
  • Twice as common in men
  • Higher in Afro-Americans than Caucasians
  • Linked to Type-A blood
  • Higher with obesity
  • Higher with heartburn/GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Higher with exposure to Epstein-Barr virus, asbestos, coal, timber and rubber industries
  • Higher in diet of salty, smoked or pickled foods

 

Signs and Symptoms of Gastric Cancer

Stomach cancer is most often asymptomatic in the early stages.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Poor appetite
  • Problem swallowing
  • Discomfort or pain in the abdomen (typically above the navel)
  • Feeling full after eating small portions
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Blood in the stool
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Weakness or lethargy (tiredness)