Gastric Cancer (Stomach Cancer)
Gastric cancer, commonly
known as stomach cancer, is a common and serious form of malignant tumor that develops from cells in the
glands that line the inner wall (mucosa) of the stomach. Stomach cancer is the third leading causes of
cancer-related death in the world, and the 15th most common cancer in the United States. However, its
incidence has been declining for two decades, thanks to campaigns to reduce its risks: high sodium diet (too
much salt), alcohol consumption, smoking… For more information please see gastric cancer causes and risk factors.
Gastric cancer usually
starts its development in the lining of the stomach wall. As the tumor grows, it invades the deep layer of
the mucosa or submucosal layer. As this stage, it is an early stage tumor with higher chance of survival.
Surgical treatment can be less aggressive and more successful. At early stage, warning signs are unspecific
and no severe: mild pain, nausea, vomiting, impaired general condition ... For more information, please see
gastric cancer symptoms.
Although there are
different types, adenocarcinoma constitutes up to 95% of all primary gastric cancers. This form of tumor
develops in the glandular cells that line the inner surface of the stomach and other internal organs such as
cervical canal. This is the type most commonly called "stomach cancer". Gastric adenocarcinoma is a common
medical condition in Japan, China, South America and Eastern Europe. In fact, the disease is the most common
form of malignant tumor in Japan, affecting successively about 75 men and 35 women out of 100,000
Other rare tumors of the
stomach are, among others, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), and Kaposi's sarcoma.
These cancers can require specific treatments. For more information, please see gastric cancer treatment.
How Cancer Forms in the
The stomach, which is a
part of the digestive system, is a muscular organ in the form of bag, housed in the upper abdomen. It is in
it that foods mix with digestive juices (which made up of water, electrolytes, hydrochloric acid, enzymes,
mucus and intrinsic factor) that are produced by glands in the lining of the stomach. These gastric juices
help break down food in a semi-solid mixture which is then fed into the small intestine for assimilation.
Due to carcinogenic
effects, the gastric cells sometimes undergo changes which make them grow or reproduce abnormally. These
changes can cause the formation of non-cancerous tumors (or benign), such as gastric polyps, benign
gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), or lipomas. Gastric cancer treatment is more strong and toxic than
therapies for non-cancerous tumors.
The stomach cells can
also undergo precancerous changes. In these cases, the cells are not malignant but their risk of becoming
cancerous is higher. Some common precancerous conditions that may transform into cancer include gastric
adenomas or adenomatous polyps, and gastric epithelial dysplasia.
In some cases, the
cellular modification leads to cancerous growth. This condition is called gastric cancer or stomach cancer.
The cells that are more prone to become malignant are the glandular cells of the inner layer of the stomach
wall, known as gastric mucosa, thus causing the development of stomach adenocarcinoma or gastric
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