STOMACH (GASTRIC) CANCER

Expert stomach cancer care focused on your needs.

What you need to know

Stomach cancer (also called gastric cancer) is found in the lining of the stomach. Almost all stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release stomach fluids). Other types include gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and lymphomas. An infection with bacteria called H. pylori is a common cause of stomach cancer.

Stomach cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage because there are few early signs, although mild abdominal (stomach) pain, nausea or heartburn may be present. Other symptoms may include decreased appetite, weight loss and quickly feeling full after eating. Later, there may be bleeding in the stomach that can lead to blood in the stool (bowel movements), vomiting of blood or anemia (due to not enough iron in the blood).

Stomach cancer makes up about 1.5 percent of new cancer cases each year in the U.S. Rates for new stomach cancer cases have been falling slowly each year over the last 10 years. Five years after diagnosis, 31 percent of people have survived stomach cancer.

Understand your diagnosis

Following a diagnosis of stomach cancer, you may have more tests to help your doctor understand how far your cancer may have spread. At this point, you’ve likely had a physical exam and reviewed your health history with your provider. You may have also had a biopsy to confirm your diagnosis.

Following a diagnosis of stomach cancer, you may have more tests to help your doctor understand your cancer stage. 

Cancer staging involves identifying where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and if it is affecting other parts of your body. Knowing the stage allows you and your doctor to develop your personalized treatment plan. 

Some tests your doctor may now recommend include:
  • CT scan, MRI or positron emission tomography (PET): Imaging technology to look inside the body.
  • Upper endoscopy: An endoscope (an instrument with a light and small video camera), is inserted in your throat, giving the doctor a view of your esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine. 
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS): An endoscope (an instrument with a light and a lens) is inserted in the mouth and uses sound waves to make a picture of tissues (a sonogram).

Customized treatment plans

Because each person and every cancer is different, your doctor uses your tests and exams to come up with an individual treatment plan. How long this takes depends on how complex your case is and your treatment goals. During this time, you build a relationship with your cancer doctors. You become a team for your care.

Open, honest communication can only benefit your relationship with your doctors. These tips can also help you get the most from this partnership:

  • Prepare in advance: Write down your questions ahead of your visits. A few examples of smart questions:
    • Why are we doing these tests?
    • Why do you think this treatment is right?
    • What side effects might this treatment cause?
  • Find trustworthy resources: If you’re looking to learn more, rely on this website or sources your team recommends, so you can make decisions based on good information.
  • Take a partner: Bringing a friend or family member to appointments can make you feel more confident and help you remember important details.

Treatment options

There are several ways to treat stomach (gastric) cancer depending on the type and location of the tumor. Options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or targeted therapy. Patients often receive a combination of treatments. Learn more about your treatment options.

More support

You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Nurse navigators
Legacy Cancer Healing Center 
Support groups and classes
Cancer rehabilitation 
Survivorship services

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