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Stomach Cancer (Gastric Cancer)

Cancer that forms in tissues lining the stomach. Also called gastric cancer. NIH - National Cancer Institute

About Stomach Cancer (Gastric Cancer)

Gastric cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lining of the stomach.

The stomach is a J-shaped organ in the upper abdomen. It is part of the digestive system, which processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) in foods that are eaten and helps pass waste material out of the body. Food moves from the throat to the stomach through a hollow, muscular tube called the esophagus. After leaving the stomach, partly-digested food passes into the small intestine and then into the large intestine.

The wall of the stomach is made up of 3 layers of tissue: the mucosal (innermost) layer, the muscularis (middle) layer, and the serosal (outermost) layer. Gastric cancer begins in the cells lining the mucosal layer and spreads through the outer layers as it grows.

Stromal tumors of the stomach begin in supporting connective tissue and are treated... Read more about Stomach Cancer

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Venous Thromboembolism: Reducing the Risk of Venous Thromboembolism (Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism) in Patients Admitted to Hospital

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a term used to include the formation of a blood clot (a thrombus) in a vein which may dislodge from its site of origin to travel in the blood, a phenomenon called embolism. A thrombus most commonly occurs in the deep veins of the legs; this is called deep vein thrombosis. A dislodged thrombus that travels to the lungs is known as a pulmonary embolism.

Systematic review of narrow-band imaging for the detection and differentiation of abnormalities in the esophagus and stomach (with video)

This review found that in the upper digestive tract, narrow band imaging appeared promising for improved detection of early squamous cell carcinoma; it was unclear whether it improved detection of early neoplastic lesions in Barrett's oesophagus. Its role in the stomach was not yet elucidated. The reliability of these conclusions is unclear due to possible inappropriate pooling of data.

Chemotherapy versus support cancer treatment in advanced gastric cancer: a meta-analysis

The aim of the present study was to compare the efficacy of chemotherapy and support treatment in patients with advanced non-resectable gastric cancer in a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials that included a comparison of chemotherapy and support care treatment in patients diagnosed with gastric adenocarcinoma, regardless of their age, gender or place of treatment. The search strategy was based on the criteria of the Cochrane Base, using the following key words: 1) randomized clinical trials and antineoplastic combined therapy or gastrointestinal neoplasm, 2) stomach neoplasm and drug therapy, 3) clinical trial and multi-modality therapy, 4) stomach neoplasm and drug therapy or quality of life, 5) double-blind method or clinical trial. The search was carried out using the Cochrane, Medline and Lilacs databases. Five studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria, for a total of 390 participants, 208 (53%) receiving chemotherapy, 182 (47%) receiving support care treatment and 6 losses (1.6%). The 1-year survival rate was 8% for support care and 20% for chemotherapy (RR = 2.14, 95% CI = 1.00-4.57, P = 0.05); 30% of the patients in the chemotherapy group and 12% in the support care group attained a 6-month symptom-free period (RR = 2.33, 95% CI = 1.41-3.87, P < 0.01). Quality of life evaluated after 4 months was significantly better for the chemotherapy patients (34%; RR = 2.07, 95% CI = 1.31-3.28, P < 0.01) with tumor mass reduction (RR = 3.32, 95% CI = 0.77-14.24, P = 0.1). Chemotherapy increased the 1-year survival rate of the patients and provided a longer symptom-free period of 6 months and an improvement in quality of life.

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Summaries for consumers

Endoscopic mucosal resection for early stomach cancer

There is a lack of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in which endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) is compared with surgery for early stomach cancer. There is a need for well‐designed randomised controlled trials to determine the effects of EMR compared to gastrectomy.

Chemotherapy after surgery versus surgery alone for stomach cancer

Stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer‐related death worldwide. Surgery is the only curative treatment offered to patients suffering from this cancer. Survival rates, however, are still poor. Chemotherapy given after surgery has been developed in order to improve these results. We identified 34 trials with 7824 patients which randomised patients to surgery with post‐surgical chemotherapy versus surgery alone. The group who received chemotherapy had a survival benefit and improvement in disease free survival (15% and 21%, respectively), although all the trials had a high risk of bias. There was no significant difference due to the stage of disease or the chemotherapy agent used.

Ultrasound for determining the spread of stomach cancer

There is much debate on the diagnostic performance of endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) in the preoperative staging of gastric cancer. The aim of this review was to collect the available evidence and then to calculate how well EUS stages stomach cancer.

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Terms to know

The muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach.
Having to do with the stomach.
Large Intestine
The part of the intestine that includes the appendix, cecum, colon, and rectum. The large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid form. The large intestine is 5 feet long.
Mucosa (Mucous Membranes)
The moist, inner lining of some organs and body cavities (such as the nose, mouth, lungs, and stomach). Glands in the mucosa make mucus (a thick, slippery fluid). Also called mucous membrane.
Neoplasm (Tumor)
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.
Small Intestine
The organ where most digestion occurs. It measures about 20 feet and includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.
An organ that is part of the digestive system. The stomach helps digest food by mixing it with digestive juices and churning it into a thin liquid.

More about Stomach Cancer

Photo of an adult

Also called: Malignant tumour of the stomach, Malignant tumor of the stomach, Cancer of the stomach

Other terms to know: See all 7
Esophagus, Gastric, Large Intestine

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