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Gastric and Stomach Cancer

Gastric cancer, also called stomach cancer, forms in the stomach lining. Learn more about types of stomach cancer and treatment options at Baptist Cancer Center.

Gastric and Stomach Cancer Explained

Gastric (stomach) cancer forms in the lining of the stomach. In many cases, it develops slowly over several years. Although pre-cancerous changes can be an early warning sign, they typically cause no symptoms until reaching an advanced stage.

Stomach cancer mostly affects people older than 50. According to the American Cancer Society, the number of new stomach cancer cases has decreased 1.5 percent each year for the last 10 years. 

Gastric and Stomach Cancer Treatment Options

If doctors suspect stomach cancer, they will perform a series of tests to confirm a diagnosis. Stomach cancer tests include:

  • Physical exam
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging tests
  • GI series
  • CT, CAT scan, or MRI
  • Chest x-ray
  • A complete blood count (CBC)

The preferred approach to stomach cancer treatment combines two or more of the following methods: surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.

The Different Types of Stomach Cancers


About 95 percent of stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas, which develop in cells within the stomach lining. These cells make and release fluids and mucus.

Carcinoid tumor
This type of gastric cancer forms in cells that make hormones and typically does not metastasize (or spread) to other organs.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
While GISTs form anywhere in the digestive tract, most develop in young cells inside the stomach wall. They can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Sometimes found in the wall of the stomach, lymphomas are cancers of the immune system tissue.

Learn the Symptoms and Causes

Recognizing the signs of gastric and stomach cancer allows for timely intervention, potentially increasing the chances of successful treatment and improving your quality of life.

What are gastric and stomach cancer causes and risk factors?

Scientists don’t yet know what causes stomach cancer. Research is ongoing, including studies considering how pre-cancerous changes affect the stomach lining. Certain conditions may progress to cancer, including:

  • Chronic atrophic gastritis: This condition is caused by H pylori infection or an autoimmune reaction where the immune system attacks cells in the stomach. Some people with this condition develop stomach cancer.
  • Intestinal metaplasia: Normal stomach lining is replaced with cells that look like the cells lining the intestine. It is not yet known why this change develops into stomach cancer.

There are many risk factors that can contribute to a stomach cancer diagnosis, including:

  • Gender (more common in men than women)
  • Age (risk increases over 50)
  • Ethnicity (more common in Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders)
  • H pylori infection
  • Stomach lymphoma
  • Diets containing large amounts of cured, smoked or processed meats
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Stomach surgery
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Type A blood
  • Inherited syndromes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and hereditary diffuse gastric cancer
  • Family history of cancer
  • Working in the coal, rubber, or metal industry

Common Signs and Symptoms

Early-stage stomach cancer is difficult to detect. The disease rarely causes symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. Stomach cancer symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain, discomfort, or swelling
  • Poor appetite
  • Feeling full in the upper abdomen after eating a small meal
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Blood in the stool

Signs of stomach cancer can also be signs of a less serious condition, such as a stomach virus or ulcer. If you experience these symptoms, consult with your doctor to determine a cause and treatment plan.

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Connect With a Patient Navigator

As a patient at Baptist Cancer Center, you will have access to a dedicated patient navigator who will act as your advocate and liaison between you and your health care teams. Our patient navigators are available at every step to schedule appointments, answer questions, explain the treatment process, and provide resources, education and support when you and your family need it.