Stomach Cancer

The stomach is a digestive organ located in the upper abdomen which helps with the mechanical and enzymatic breakdown of the food particles. Stomach cancer also known as gastric cancer originates in the inner lining of the stomach wall. The most common type of stomach cancer is adenocarcinoma diagnosed in 95% patients. The other types of gastric cancer include gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), carcinoid and lymphoma.

Survival depends on the stage of gastric cancer at the time of diagnosis. Staging of gastric cancer confined to the stomach is referred to as localized and that which has spread to adjacent lymph nodes is staged as locoregional. Spread to distant organs such as liver or peritoneum (inner lining of the abdominal cavity) is referred to as distant metastases. The overall 5-year survival for gastric cancer is 27.7% and 63.2% for localized gastric cancer.

Risk Factors

  • Infection with Helicobacter pylori bacterium which also predisposes to non-cancerous stomach ulcers and malignant lymphoma
  • A diet rich in smoked and salted foods including smoked fish, red meat and pickled vegetables.
  • More common in men and older age group >65 years of age
  • Family history of cancer
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Blood group A
  • Pernicious anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Menetrier disease
  • Previous stomach surgery
  • Gastric polyps


  • Upper abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Indigestion or bloating
  • Nausea, vomiting with or without blood
  • Blood in stool
  • Loss of appetite or weight
DIVIDING CELLS Courtesy, Thomas Reid, NCI Center for Cancer Research

Courtesy, Thomas Reid, NCI Center for Cancer Research


The choice of treatment depends on the stage of disease and treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these modalities.

Surgery is the only potentially curative treatment for gastric cancer. It involves removal of part of the stomach known as subtotal gastrectomy or the entire stomach called total gastrectomy.

Chemotherapy maybe given before and after surgery to improve survival in patients who undergo surgical removal of the gastric cancer. It may also be given before surgery to shrink the tumor.

Radiation therapy
Radiation may be used in combination with chemotherapy after surgery to improve survival.

For more information visit: Stomach Cancer- National Cancer Institute