Cancer Care

Stomach Cancer | Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer occurs in approximately 26,000 patients every year in the United States and results in 10,000 deaths. Survival has been improving since the 1970's because of early diagnosis and advances in treatment. MaineHealth Cancer Care provides expert diagnosis and treatment services for people with gastric cancer. 

What is gastric (stomach) cancer?

The stomach is in the upper abdomen between the esophagus and small bowel. The stomach functions to assist in the early digestion of food. The most common gastric cancer is adenocarcinoma, this tumor arises in the mucus-producing cells lining the stomach. Other cancers of the stomach include lymphoma and neuroendocrine tumor.

Older men are at higher risk

The risk factors for gastric cancer include older age, male gender, H. Pylori ( a bacteria that causes inflammation and ulcers in the stomach), a family genetic syndrome (hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, Lynch syndrome, and familial adenomatous polyposis), race(African American, Hispanic and Asian),  diet high in preserved foods and low  in fruits and vegetables,  smoking, alcohol consumption,  and obesity.

Indigestion and Bloating May Be Signs of Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer is usually asymptomatic and is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. Symptoms include indigestion, upper abdominal pain, bloating after meals, and decreased appetite. At more advanced stages additional symptoms can include weakness, fatigue, vomiting blood, and unexplained weight loss.

Scope and Scans Help to Diagnose Gastric Cancer

The diagnosis of gastric cancer is often made during endoscopy. An endoscope is a long lighted camera that is placed in the mouth through the esophagus and into the stomach. Tumors can then be biopsied to establish the diagnosis of cancer. Diagnostic tests include CT and PET scan.  Other diagnostic procedures include endoscopic ultrasound (lighted scope with an ultrasound probe at the tip) and laparoscopy.

Gastric Cancer Treatment Depends on Cancer Stage

The treatment of gastric cancer depends on the stage at diagnosis. Early gastric cancers can be treated with surgery and have a high likelihood of cure. More advanced gastric cancer require multiple forms of treatment and have a higher risk of mortality.

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