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Stomach cancer


The stomach is the organ that holds and digests food with gastric juice. The food and gastric juice are mixed and then emptied into the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. 

Stomach cancer is also called gastric cancer. It can start in the stomach and happens when cancer cells grow in the stomach lining. 




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  • Stomach cancers usually grow slowly and over many years. Before stomach cancer starts, there are precancerous changes in the stomach lining. Sometimes these changes are not found at first. There are many different kinds of stomach cancer.

  • In early stages, stomach cancer doesn't have symptoms. This can make stomach cancer hard to find early on.  

    The signs and symptoms of stomach cancer may include:

    • Not feeling hungry
    • Losing weight without trying
    • Stomach pain
    • A feeling of discomfort in the abdomen or middle of the body
    • Swelling in the abdomen, sometimes because of fluid
    • Feeling full after eating a small meal
    • Heartburn or indigestion
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting, with or without blood
    • Blood in stool
    • Anemia or low amounts of iron in the blood

    These symptoms can happen for other reasons besides cancer. If you have symptoms like those listed above, you should talk to your provider to find out the reason.

  • Stomach cancer isn't always easy to find. Stomach cancers are usually found when a person goes to the doctor because of signs or symptoms they are having. 

    There are many ways your doctor may find stomach cancer. Your doctor might do one or more of the following:

    • A physical exam
    • Ask about your medical history 
    • An imaging test, like an X-ray or CT scan  
    • A biopsy (taking a sample of tissue from your body and testing it)
    • Lab tests and other screening tests, such as a blood test 
    • Endoscopic ultrasound or when doctors use a camera on a long thin tube to look at the stomach area
  • Stomach cancer makes up about 1.5% of all new cancer cases each year in the United States. 

  • Some factors raise your chances for getting stomach cancer:

    • Smoking
    • Having an H. pylori bacteria (a kind of stomach infection) 
    • Some medical problems that run in families
  • There is no sure way to stop someone from getting stomach cancer. There are some things you can do to help lower your chances for getting it, such as:

    • Have a low-fat diet (eating plan)
    • Don't smoke
    • Don't drink alcohol
    • Watch your body weight and get exercise

    Learn more about how to stop stomach cancer.

  • How we care for stomach cancer depends on many factors: 

    • Type of cancer
    • Size of the cancer
    • Where the cancer is located in the body 
    • Stage of cancer 

    Your doctor will work with you to find the right care plan for you. Some examples of treatment include:

    • Surgery to remove cancer 
    • Chemotherapy (using medication to make the cancer smaller or to kill cancer cells)
    • Radiation (using X-rays to kill cancer cells)
    • Targeted therapy (using drugs to stop cancer cells from growing and spreading)
    • Immunotherapy (using the body’s immune system that naturally fights illness)