Medical Definition of Cancer, stomach

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Cancer, stomach: Cancer of the stomach, the main organ that holds food for digestion. Worldwide, stomach cancer is the second most frequent cancer and the second leading cause of death from cancer. It can develop in any part of the stomach and spread to other organs. It is also known as gastric cancer.

Duodenal ulcers (peptic ulcers) are not associated with stomach cancer. However, infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori is associated with gastric cancer. In one study, gastric cancer developed in about 3% of the infected patients and none of the uninfected patients. Eradication of the bacterium prevents or delays the development of gastric cancer. The risk of gastric cancer is also increased in Down syndrome.

Symptoms of stomach cancer are often vague, such as loss of appetite and weight, so diagnosis is often delayed. The cancer is diagnosed definitively with a biopsy of stomach tissue.

Cancer of the stomach is difficult to cure unless it is found early. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Surgery is the most common treatment. It involves removal of part (subtotal or partial gastrectomy) or all (total gastrectomy) of the stomach.

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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