What is a stomach or a gastric cancer? It’s when healthy cells in your stomach change and start to grow out of control. It tends to slowly get worse over many years. It can start in any part of your stomach and can spread to other areas of your body, including your liver, lungs, and bones.
This is the most common type of gastric cancer, making up as many as 95% of all cases. It starts in the tissues of your stomach lining, in the cells that make mucus and other fluids.
Less common kinds of gastric cancer include ones that start in the cells of your digestive tract — carcinoid tumors and gastric sarcoma — and lymphomas, which are linked to part of your immune system called lymph nodes.
Who Gets Gastric Cancer?
Around 28,000 people get it each year in the U.S. — about 60% of people diagnosed with it are over 65. Men are more likely to get it than women. It was the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. until the 1930s, but now it’s the 14th most common type of cancer. Researchers think it may have become less common after refrigerators made it easier to store fruits and vegetables, and people began eating fewer salted and smoked foods.
Things you do every day can affect your chances of getting gastric cancer. Eating a lot of smoked foods, salted fish and meat, and pickled vegetables can boost your risk, along with not getting enough fruit and vegetables. You also might be more likely to get it if you smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, or are very overweight.
Stomach Cancer Symptoms
You may not notice any symptoms — sometimes it’s not found until it’s spread to another part of your body. But here’s what to look for:
- Feeling bloated or full after you eat even a little
- Painful heartburn and indigestion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss for no reason
- Not being hungry
- Bloody or black stools
- The Diagnosis
- Radiation and Chemotherapy
- Other Treatments
Your doctor may suggest targeted therapy — special drugs that find and attack cancer cells without harming the healthy cells around them. He also might talk with you about immunotherapy, which helps your body use its natural defenses to fight the cancer.