Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Several different types of cancer can occur in the stomach. The most common type is called adenocarcinoma, which starts from one of the common cell types found in the lining of the stomach. There are several types of adenocarcinoma. Because other types of gastric cancer occur much less frequently, this article focuses on adenocarcinoma of the stomach.
Adenocarcinoma of the stomach is a common cancer of the digestive tract worldwide, although it is relatively uncommon in the United States. It occurs most frequently in men over 40 years old. This form of gastric cancer is extremely common in Japan, Chile, and Iceland. The rate of most types of gastric adenocarcinoma in the United States has declined over the years. Experts think the decrease may be related to reduced intake of salted, cured, and smoked foods.
Diagnosis is often delayed because symptoms may not occur in the early stages of the disease, or because patients self-treat symptoms that may be common to other, less serious gastrointestinal disorders (bloating, gas, heartburn, and a sense of fullness).
Risk factors for gastric cancer are a family history of gastric cancer, infection, blood type A, smoking, a history of pernicious anemia, a history of chronic atrophic gastritis, a condition of decreased gastric acid, and a prior history of an adenomatous gastric polyp.
Difficulty swallowing, particularly difficulty that increases over time
Excessive gas (flatus)
General decline in health
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Premature abdominal fullness after meals
Unintentional weight loss
Vague abdominal fullness
Weakness or fatigue
Signs and tests
The following tests can help diagnose gastric cancer:
Complete blood count (CBC) to check for anemia
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) with biopsy
Stool test to check for blood in the stools
Upper GI series