Stomach cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that begins in the stomach. The stomach is a muscular sac located in the upper middle of your abdomen, just below your ribs. Your stomach receives and holds the food you eat and then helps to break down and digest it.
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, can affect any part of the stomach. In most of the world, stomach cancers form in the main part of the stomach (stomach body).
Signs and symptoms of stomach cancer may include:
Factors that increase the risk of stomach cancer include:
Tests and procedures used to diagnose stomach cancer include:
A tiny camera to see inside your stomach (upper endoscopy). A thin tube containing a tiny camera is passed down your throat and into your stomach. Your doctor can use it to look for signs of cancer.
Removing a sample of tissue for testing (biopsy). If any suspicious areas are found during the upper endoscopy, special tools can be used to remove a sample of tissue for testing. The sample is sent to a lab for analysis.
Imaging tests. Imaging tests used to look for stomach cancer include CT scans and a special type of X-ray exam called a barium swallow.
The stage of your stomach cancer helps your doctor decide which treatments may be best for you. Tests and procedures used to determine the stage of cancer include:
Blood tests. Blood tests to measure organ function may indicate whether other organs in your body, such as your liver, may be affected by cancer.
Endoscopic ultrasound. During an endoscopic ultrasound, a thin tube with a camera on the tip is passed down your throat and into your stomach. A special ultrasound tool is used to create pictures of your stomach. Endoscopic ultrasound helps doctors determine how deeply a cancer penetrates the stomach wall.
Imaging tests. Tests may include CT and positron emission tomography (PET).
Exploratory surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgery to look for signs that your cancer has spread beyond your stomach, within your chest or abdomen. Exploratory surgery is usually done laparoscopically. This means the surgeon makes several small incisions in your abdomen and inserts a special camera that transmits images to a monitor in the operating room.
Other staging tests may be used, depending on your situation.
Your doctor uses the information from these procedures to assign a stage to your cancer. The stages of stomach cancer are indicated by Roman numerals that range from 0 to IV, with the lowest stages indicating that the can
To reduce the risk of stomach cancer, you can:
Maintain a healthy weight. If you're overweight or obese, talk to your doctor about strategies to help you lose weight. Aim for a slow and steady weight loss of 1 or 2 pounds a week.
Choose a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet each day. Choose a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
Reduce the amount of salty and smoked foods you eat. Protect your stomach by limiting these foods.
Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. Smoking increases your risk of stomach cancer, as well as many other types of cancer. Quitting smoking can be very difficult, so ask your doctor for help.
Ask your doctor about your risk of stomach cancer. Talk with your doctor if you have an increased risk of stomach cancer. People with a strong family history of stomach cancer might consider tests, such as endoscopy, to look for signs of stomach cancer.