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Stages of Gastric Cancer

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    There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.

    The three ways that cancer spreads in the body are:

    • Through tissue. Cancer invades the surrounding normal tissue.
    • Through the lymph system. Cancer invades the lymph system and travels through the lymph vessels to other places in the body.
    • Through the blood. Cancer invades the veins and capillaries and travels through the blood to other places in the body.

    When cancer cells break away from the primary (original) tumor and travel through the lymph or blood to other places in the body, another (secondary) tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. The secondary (metastatic) tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually breast cancer cells. The disease is metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer.

    The following stages are used for gastric cancer:

    Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ)

    In stage 0, abnormal cells are found in the inside lining of the mucosa (innermost layer) of the stomach wall. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.

    Stage I

    In stage I, cancer has formed in the inside lining of the mucosa (innermost layer) of the stomach wall. Stage I is divided into stage IA and stage IB, depending on where the cancer has spread.

    • Stage IA: Cancer may have spread into the submucosa (layer of tissue next to the mucosa) of the stomach wall.
    • Stage IB: Cancer:
      • may have spread into the submucosa (layer of tissue next to the mucosa) of the stomach wall and is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor; or
      • has spread to the muscle layer of the stomach wall.

    Stage II

    Stage II gastric cancer is divided into stage IIA and stage IIB, depending on where the cancer has spread.

    • Stage IIA: Cancer:
      • has spread to the subserosa (layer of tissue next to the serosa) of the stomach wall; or
      • has spread to the muscle layer of the stomach wall and is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor; or
      • may have spread to the submucosa (layer of tissue next to the mucosa) of the stomach wall and is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor.
    • Stage IIB: Cancer:
      • has spread to the serosa (outermost layer) of the stomach wall; or
      • has spread to the subserosa (layer of tissue next to the serosa) of the stomach wall and is found in 1 or 2 lymph nodes near the tumor; or
      • has spread to the muscle layer of the stomach wall and is found in 3 to 6 lymph nodes near the tumor; or
      • may have spread to the submucosa (layer of tissue next to the mucosa) of the stomach wall and is found in 7 or more lymph nodes near the tumor.
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