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Cancer in the Stomach: Causes, Symptoms, Stages, Treatment, Survival Rate

Cancer that is occurring in the stomach is known as stomach cancer. Stomach is the sac that is muscular and its location in the body is below the ribs. The food that you eat is held by the stomach and in the process it is broken down and digested.

Adenocarcinoma Stomach

Gastric cancer is another terminology for cancer in the stomach. The cell that produces mucus in the stomach is where this cancer begins in the stomach lining (adenocarcinoma is the common form of cancer in the stomach).

Cancer in the Stomach

In the United States, it is rare to witness stomach cancer. With a decline in number of patients who are diagnosed with the diseases annually. Japan and china are the leading areas in the globe that witness high rates of stomach cancers.

Causes of Cancer in the Stomach

The cause of stomach cancer has not been ascertained by the doctors at the moment. Pickled, salted and smoked foods are perceived to be the contributing factors for cancer in the stomach. The rate of having stomach cancer has reduced in the world with the inception of refrigerator for food preservation.

When mutation takes place in the DNA of a cell the cancer will occur. The rate of cell division will be so rapid in the mutated cell and it will be alive whereas the normal cells continue dying. The nearby organs will be invaded by the accumulation of the mutated cells. The spread of the cancer cells in the entire body will be due to the fact that a cancer cell breaks off from the tumor.

Types of Cancer in the Stomach

The various type of cancer in the stomach includes:

  1. Adenocarcinoma, which is a cancer beginning in the cells of the glandular. Protective mucus around the stomach is secreted in order to shield the stomach from the digestive juices that are acidic. A great number of cancers in the stomach occur due to adenocarcinoma.
  2. Cancer beginning at the cells of the immune system (lymphoma). Cancer can develop from a few cells in the stomach lining that support the immune system. However it is rare to have stomach lymphoma.
  3. Cancer beginning with the cells that produces hormones (carcinoid cancer). Carcinoid cancer can be developed by cells that produce hormones. It is rare to come through carcinoid cancer.
  4. Cancer beginning in the tissues of the nervous system. This specific cancer of the stomach that affects the cells of the nervous system is called gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). GIST is a stomach cancer that is rare.

Cancer in the Stomach

Adenocarcinoma is the stomach cancer that is commonly known because of the rarity attributed to other stomach cancers.

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer in the Stomach

The following are the signs and symptoms of cancer in the stomach:

  • Fatigue
  • After meal bloating
  • Being easily full with small quantities of food
  • Persistent and severe heartburn
  • Unrelenting and severe in-digestion
  • Unknown and persistent nausea
  • Pain in the stomach
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Unintentional loss of body weight.

The Risk Factors for Cancer in the Stomach

The risk factors that elevate the chances of developing cancer in the stomach include:

  • Smoked and salty food
  • Low vegetable and fruit diet
  • Aflatoxin fungus contaminated food
  • History of stomach cancer in the family lineage
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Inflammation of the stomach in for a long duration
  • Stomach polyps
  • Smoking
  • Pernicious anemia.

Tests to Diagnose Cancer in the Stomach

The procedure and tests involving the diagnosis of cancer in the stomach includes:

  • Upper endoscopy. Using a tiny camera to view the inside of the stomach. This tiny tube that is passed down the throat has cameras. The signs of cancer can be seen by the doctor. A sample of tissues from the affected part can be collected by the doctor for analysis (biopsy).
  • Imaging test. Barium swallows. This is the use of X – ray and computerized topography (CT) to search for stomach cancer.

Determination of the Stage and the Extent of Cancer in the Stomach

The decision by the doctor regarding the treatment that you are to receive will depend on the stage the stomach cancer has reached. The procedures and test used to determine these two key areas are:

  • Imaging test. Tests can entail positron emission tomography (PET) and CT
  • Exploratory surgery. Signs of cancer spreading to your abdomen can be traced a surgery may be recommended by your doctor.
    Exploratory surgery is commonly done laparoscopically. Cameras are inserted to your our abdomen through small incisions made by your surgeon. Images are transmitted to monitors at the operating room.

Your situation will tell if other staging systems will be used.

Stages for Cancer in the Stomach

The adenocarcinoma stomach cancer has the following stages:

  • Stage I: Limited part of the layer of tissue lining the walls of the stomach has tumors.
  • Stage II: Cancer has now deeply spread into the layer of muscle of the stomach lining.
  • Stage III: All the stomach layers are, at this stage, been affected.
  • Stage IV: Cancer has continued spreading to other parts of the body.

Treatment for Cancer in the Stomach

The stage of the cancer in the stomach will determine the mode of treatment, coupled with your preferences and your health generally.

Surgery for Treating Cancer in the Stomach

A margin of healthy tissue is removed together with all the cancer in the stomach if it is possible. These options include:

  • Complete removal of all tumors in the stomach lining. A procedures known as endoscopic mucosal resection is the procedure of removing limited small cancers inside the stomach lining.
  • Subtotal gastrectomy. This is the removal of a stomach portion. Only the portion affected by the cancer is removed by the surgeon during gastrectomy.
  • Total gastrectomy. This is removal of the stomach in its entirety. The stomach is removed together with the neighboring tissues.
  • Removing nymph nodes in order to look for cancer. Cancer cells are sought by the surgeon examining the abdominal lymph nodes.
  • Signs and symptoms can be relieved by surgery. People with stomach cancer that is advanced can relieve their symptoms through removal of part of the tumor. You can be comfortable but the cancer cannot be cured in totality.

Bleeding and infections are some of the shortcomings of surgery. Digestive problems can occur owing to total removal of the stomach.

Radiation Therapy for Treating Cancer in the Stomach

Radiation therapy can help in treating cancer in the stomach. This entails the use of energy beams that are highly powered for example X-ray to eliminate cancer cells. You lie on the table as a machine moves around you while emitting the energy beams.

This procedure can be used prior to surgery (neadjuvant radiation) which shrinks the tumor in the stomach making it easy to be removed. Any cells that remain can be killed through the same criteria (adjuvant radiation). Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy. Side effects that might be occasioning due to a large tumor might be relieved through radiation.

Diarrhea nausea, vomiting and ingestion can occur as a result of radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy for Treating Cancer in the Stomach

Chemotherapy can aid in treating cancer in the stomach. This is a treatment that entails using chemicals to eliminate cancer cells. Cancer cells that might have spread throughout the body can be eliminated by chemotherapy drugs.

Chemotherapy can be administered prior to surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy). This helps in shrinking the stomach tumors for easy removal. Remaining cancer cells after surgery may be removed through chemotherapy (adjuvant chemotherapy). Radiation is always combined with chemotherapy.

People with stomach cancers that have advanced can relieve the signs and symptoms through chemotherapy.

The drugs that are used will determine the outcome of the chemotherapy. The drugs of the chemotherapy drugs that will be administered will be determined by the type of the stomach cancer that you are having.

Targeted Drugs for Cancer in the Stomach

Specific abnormalities exhibited by the cancer will be attacked by the targeted drugs. Some of the targeted drugs for cancer in the stomach are:

  • For stomach cancer cells producing plenty of HER2, Trastuzumab (Herceptin) will be used.
  • For gastrointestinal stromal tumor which is a rare stomach cancer, Imanitib (Gleevec) will be used.
  • Sunitib (Sutent) is used for gastrointestinal stromal tumor.

The doctor will be able to know whether this treatment will be viable for your status after conducting tests.

Clinical Trials for Cancer in the Stomach

This is one mode of using new discovered treatment mechanism or alternative enhance new traits of the existing ways. You can try new treatments through participation on clinical trials. Nevertheless, cure is not guaranteed through these trials. The doctor’s certainty about the side effects is also minimal in this regard.

Seek your doctor’s advice for your eligibility of clinical trials. You will be able to discern the pros and cons together.

Coping with Cancer in the Stomach

The diagnosis of cancer can be straining and frightening. You will find out, after you adjust, that this helps go through your normal life after your fist encounter. Try doing the following to cope with cancer in the stomach:

  • Decide amicably about your care. Ask your doctor to clearly write down details regarding your cancer, the available treatments, the type of cancer and the stage. The details will guide you about your cancer in the stomach and the risk involving each viable treatment.
  • Interact with other individuals who are cancer survivors. Your doctor can tell you about support groups found in your area. Connecting with cancer survivors can be done via the internet on message board’s example those run by American Cancer Society.
  • Be active. You should not stop doing that you normally enjoy doing when you have been diagnosed with cancer. Do something if you feel that you can do it comfortably.

Prognosis for Cancer in the Stomach

Describing the prospect of recovering and surviving of a disease is called as prognosis. It might be hard to answer this question. ”Can I get through this?” this is a question often asked by people when they get to be aware of that they have cancer in the stomach. The answer to this question is not easy.

The chance of recovering from cancer in the stomach depends on the following factors:

  • The location of cancer
  • Stage of the disease
  • Type of the cancer
  • The growth rate and how its spread
  • Age of the patient
  • General health of the individual.

Prognosis for cancer in the stomach also depends on the speed of response to treatment.If the cancer response to treatment is positive, it will be termed that you have favorable prognosis by your doctor. Unfavorable prognosis will result to if cancer in the stomach is hard to control. Prognosis is just stating what is probable and that worth noting. You cannot predict the outcome not even doctors can do this. The certainty makes other individual to cope easily by the awareness of their prognosis and the detail regarding treatment efficiency. This might frighten or confuse some patients too. The usefulness might be viewed to be too general by some individuals. The meaning of the statistics can be well explained by the doctor that knows the situation that you are in. They are in the best position to do this. It is worth noting that; prognosis of an individual may also change. If cancer in the stomach progresses, it changes a favorable prognosis. If treatment is a success then an unfavorable prognosis has changed. The patient has to personally decide if they want to know their prognosis for cancer in the stomach.

Life Expectancy or Survival Rate for Cancer in the Stomach

This is the amount of time that one survives after being aware and being diagnosed with cancer in the stomach.The stage and type of cancer is the main determiner of the survival rate. Often, statistics uses the span of five years. Five years after being diagnosed. The people fall under this three groups and they are alive:

  • Are disease free
  • No symptoms of cancer or only a few
  • Are still undergoing cancer treatment.

The life expectancy could be more positive as per now because these stats are based on analysis collected more than five years ago. Treatment improvement has indicated that people who have been recently diagnosed have had better survival rate for cancer in the stomach.

Below mentioned are the five year survival rates based on five years for stomach cancer in accordance to the National Cancer Institute (NCI):

  • If the doctor detects the cancer in the stomach at the early stages, when it is present just in the stomach only the survival rate for five years is 63 percent.
  • If cancer has reached the areas neighboring parts of the stomach close to the nymph nodes, the survival rate for five years is 28 percent.
  • 4 percent is the survival rate of the cancer in the stomach when it has far beyond the stomach.
  • 28 percent is the survival rate of all the stages of stomach cancer combined.

Some other percentage that has to be accounted for is that, people may also die of other causes apart from the cancer in the stomach.


  1. American Cancer Society. (2023). Stomach (Gastric) Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomach-cancer.html
  2. National Cancer Institute. (2023). Stomach (Gastric) Cancer – Patient Version. https://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach
  3. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Stomach Cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stomach-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352438
  4. Cancer Research UK. (2022). Stomach Cancer. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/stomach-cancer
  5. World Health Organization. (2021). Stomach Cancer. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 31, 2023

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