What is stomach cancer?

Cancers that occur in the stomach most commonly start in its lining. They tend to be slow-growing and may not produce symptoms. Stomach cancers are also known as gastric cancers. Although common in other countries around the world, stomach cancers are relatively rare in the United States, where around 21,000 new cases are diagnosed each year (Source: ACS).

The risk of stomach cancer increases with infection with a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori, which is known to cause stomach ulcers. Other genetic and environmental risk factors for stomach cancer have also been identified.

When symptoms of gastric cancer develop, they can be due to bleeding in the stomach or because the cancer has grown large enough to interfere with appetite, swallowing or digestion. Pain or a sense of fullness may develop. Other symptoms may be less specific, such as weight loss, fatigue, and weakness.

The main treatment for stomach cancer is surgery, which may be followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy and radiation may also be used to treat stomach cancer that has spread.

Emergencies due to stomach cancer are rare but can occur if the tumor starts bleeding profusely or it perforates the stomach. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for symptoms such as severe nausea and vomiting, vomiting blood, bloody stool, sweating, difficulty breathing, pale or blue lips, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), confusion, or changes in level of consciousness.

Seek prompt medical care if you notice blood in your stool, which can be red, black, or tarry in texture, or if you have persistent abdominal discomfort, increasing difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss, or other symptoms that concern you.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?

Early stomach cancers often have no symptoms. As the tumor gets larger, it can interfere with digestion or swallowing. Because it is taking up space in the stomach, a sense of fullness may occur shortly after a person starts eating. Nonspecific symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, and weakness can also occur.

Common symptoms of stomach cancer

Common symptoms of stomac... Read more about stomach cancersymptoms

CAUSES

What causes stomach cancer?

The specific cause of stomach cancer is not known, although infection with a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori has been associated with an increased risk of getting the disease. Other factors that seem to increase the risk of developing stomach cancer have also been identified.

What are the risk factors for stomach cancer?

A number of factors increase the risk of d... Read more about stomach cancercauses

TREATMENTS

How is stomach cancer treated?

Goal of cancer treatment

The goal of treatment for early stomach cancers is to permanently cure the cancer. For more advanced cancers, the goal of treatment may be to control spread of the disease, manage its symptoms or complications, and improve quality of life.

Common treatments for stomach cancer

Common treatments for stomach cancer include:

<... Read more about stomach cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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