Stomach cancer, known medically as gastric cancer, has become far less common over the past 60 years in the United States.
The presence of stomach cancer most often is not recognized until the disease has spread. This is partly due to the absence of noticeable symptoms during the early stages of cancer development in the stomach. And when symptoms do become evident, they initially may be mistaken for other less serious stomach problems, such as indigestion and heartburn, further delaying diagnosis and treatment.
Although stomach cancer usually finds its start within the interior layer of the five-layer stomach, it can develop anywhere in the organ and spread to other parts of the body by growing beyond the stomach wall, entering the bloodstream or reaching the lymphatic system.
Because adenocarcinomas make up the vast majority of stomach cancer cases, other types of stomach cancer are considered rare, including:
- Lymphoma: which affects a body’s immune system
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors: often called GIST or gastric sarcomas
- Carcinoid tumors: which affect the hormone-producing cells of the stomach
At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, stomach cancer is treated with a multidisciplinary approach in which a team of experts including medical, surgical and radiation oncologists work together to develop an individual treatment plan based on each patient’s unique needs.