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Every year, 7 out of 100,000 people get stomach cancer and 3 out of 100,000 people die from it. About 0.8% of all men and women will be diagnosed with stomach cancer at some point in their lives. As of 2017, 116,525 people in the United States were diagnosed with stomach cancer.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 27,600 new cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed in 2020, accounting for about 1.5% of all new cancer cases. In addition, the NCI estimates that 11,010 gastric cancer deaths will occur in 2020, accounting for 1.8 percent of all cancer deaths.

Stomach cancer affects men and women differently and can be difficult to diagnose, so it’s important to understand its unique characteristics and the diseases that can mimic it. This article discusses the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer, the different stages of the disease, the main causes, warning signs and how to treat it.

What is stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, occurs when normal healthy cells are replaced by cancerous cells within the lining of the stomach. The stomach is located below the esophagus and is the tube through which food passes into the intestines after swallowing. The stomach is the part of the digestive tract that digests food and moves nutrients through the intestines to the small intestine.

This type of cancer is usually slow growing and takes years to develop. Stomach cancer occurs when normally healthy cells begin to grow out of control in the lining of the stomach. This collection of cancer cells is called a tumor, and over time, these cells spread to other layers of the stomach.

What are the different types of stomach cancer?
Gastric cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is the name of a category of cancer. There are many types of stomach cancer:

Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of gastric cancer, accounting for more than 90% of all gastric cancers. Cancer that occurs in the innermost layer of the stomach.
Lymphoma: A cancer of the immune system that accounts for 4 percent of stomach cancers, not of the lining of the stomach. It is divided into primary and secondary lymphoma of the stomach.
Primary lymphoma involves the stomach and eventually affects the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and other parts of the body.
Secondary lymphoma first spreads to other parts of the body, including the bloodstream, lymph nodes, bone marrow, and other organs. Second, the cancer spreads to the stomach.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor: A soft tissue sarcoma that grows in the connective tissue of the stomach.
Neuroendocrine Cancer: Neuroendocrine cancer, also known as carcinoid tumors, originates from the cells of the endocrine and nervous system of the gut.
What are the different stages of stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer is staged based on the degree of cancer cell growth and spread. Adenocarcinoma is initially evaluated by the tumor and nodal metastasis (TNM) system.

T: How deep has the tumor spread into the stomach wall?
N: Has stomach cancer spread to the lymph nodes?
B: Has stomach cancer spread to other parts of the body?
After considering the TNM staging information, the cancer is staged 0 or 1 to 4. Tumor stages are classified as follows.

Stage 0 is the first stage of cancer on the surface of the stomach lining.
Stage 1A or 1B
Stage 2A or 2B, usually involving the deep wall of the stomach
Stage 3A or 3B or 3C, usually with lymph node(s) involvement.
Stage 4 means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body outside of the stomach.
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What are the main causes of stomach cancer?
There is no single cause of stomach cancer, and sometimes it occurs without specific risk factors. Lifestyle choices can increase your risk of stomach cancer. However, people with chronic gastritis due to lifestyle choices or chronic diseases are at higher risk.

Common causes of stomach cancer are often related to medical history, including:

H. pylori infection: A common stomach infection that often causes ulcers.
Tumors: Other tumors that develop elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract.
Gastric Polyp: An abnormal growth of tissue in the lining of the stomach.
Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
There are lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of stomach cancer. It includes:

Quit smoking
Eat a healthy diet and avoid it
Processed foods
Smoked food or meat
Salty foods or added sodium
Be physically active
Proper preparation and storage of food
From excessive consumption of alcohol

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Having pernicious anemia, which is a vitamin deficiency that may be related to either lifestyle or disease
Does stomach cancer affect men and women differently?
It is important to look for signs of stomach cancer in adults over the age of 55. However, it most commonly affects those in their 60s or 70s. While it is crucial to be aware of the signs of stomach cancer in women, men are more likely to develop stomach cancer. In 2020, 16,980 men and 10,620 women are projected to be diagnosed with the disease. Men have a lifetime risk of 1 in 95 of developing stomach cancer, while women have a 1 in 154 risk. The signs of stomach cancer in men are typically no different than in women.

What are the early warning signs of stomach cancer?
The first signs of stomach cancer are often vague. In fact, stomach cancer signs may be heartburn, indigestion, changes in appetite, nausea and vomiting. The common signs of stomach cancer that a patient experiences include:

Vomiting, with or without blood
Change in appetite
Swelling of the abdomen
“Vague” discomfort in the abdomen above the navel
Abdominal pain or discomfort
Upper abdomen fullness below the chest bone after consuming a small amount of food
Unintentional weight loss
Anemia (low hemoglobin)
What can mimic the symptoms of stomach cancer?
Even if you are experiencing symptoms, this does not always mean you have cancer. Many of the common signs of stomach cancer are often other gastrointestinal conditions, such as GERD, gastritis or peptic ulcers. These conditions can be diagnosed by your doctor and managed with medication.

Can stomach cancer go undetected?
Yes, stomach cancer can go undetected for years because there are no warning signs in the early stages. However, while early signs of stomach cancer are often vague, recognizing them will increase the likelihood of discovering the disease sooner.

How can you detect stomach cancer early?
Be sure to contact your medical provider if you feel like something is not right. There are screening tests for stomach cancer when people are at risk for or are experiencing signs and symptoms. Diagnostic evaluations for gastric cancer include:

Complete medical history and physical examination
Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy to view the esophagus, stomach and small intestine after sedation. A small, flexible tube is inserted into the mouth with a tiny camera on the end that allows the doctor to see inside your stomach.
Biopsy of stomach tissue to be evaluated under a microscope
CT scan to visualize organs during X-ray
Endoscopic ultrasound to diagnose and treat stomach cancer at the same time by visualizing organs and nearby blood vessels
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan to illuminate cancer cells. A radioactive sugar tracer is used because cancer cells use more sugar than healthy cells and the tracer illuminates the cancer cells.

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