Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is a malignant tumor arising from the lining of the stomach. There has been a significant decrease in the number of people diagnosed with stomach cancer in the past 60 years. According to the American Cancer Society, the estimated numbers of new cases (people diagnosed with the condition) and deaths from gastric cancer in the United States in 2012 will be:
New cases: 21,320
Stomach cancers are classified according to the type of tissue where they originate. The most common type of stomach cancer is adenocarcinoma, which starts in the glandular tissue of the stomach and accounts for 90% to 95% of all stomach cancers. Other forms of stomach cancer include lymphomas, which involve the lymphatic system and sarcomas, which involve the connective tissue (such as muscle, fat, or blood vessels).
Stomach cancer may often be cured if it is found and treated at an early stage. Unfortunately, the outlook is poor if the cancer is already at an advanced stage when discovered. In most cases, stomach cancer is found at later stages.
The exact cause of stomach cancer is unknown, but a number of factors can increase the risk of the disease, including:
Gender -- men have more than double the risk of getting stomach cancer than women.
Race -- being African-American or Asian may increase your risk.
Genetics -- genetic abnormalities and some inherited cancer syndromes may increase your risk
Geography -- stomach cancer is more common in Japan, the former Soviet Union, and parts of Central America and South America.
Blood type -- individuals with blood group A may be at increased risk.
Advanced age -- stomach cancer occurs more often around ages 70 and 74 in men and women, respectively.
Family history of gastric cancer can double or triple the risk of stomach cancer.
Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating a diet low in fruits and vegetables or high in salted, smoked, or nitrate-preserved foods may increase your risk
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection of the stomach. H. pylori is a bacterium that infects the lining of the stomach and causes chronic inflammation and ulcers.
Certain health conditions including chronic gastritis, pernicious anemia, gastric polyps, intestinal metaplasia, and prior stomach surgery.
Work-related exposure due to coal mining, nickel refining, and rubber and timber processing and asbestos exposure.
What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Cancer?
In the early stages of stomach cancer, you may have very few symptoms. These may include:
Indigestion and stomach discomfort
A bloated feeling after eating
Loss of appetite
These symptoms are similar to those caused by a peptic ulcer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should see your health care provider so that a proper diagnosis can be made and timely treatment given. A stomach cancer can grow very large before it causes other symptoms.
In more advanced cancer, you may have:
Discomfort in the upper or middle part of the abdomen.
Blood in the stool (which appears as black, tarry stools).
Vomiting or vomiting blood.
Pain or bloating in the stomach after eating.
Weakness or fatigue associated with mild anemia (a deficiency in red blood cells).