Cancer can start in any part of the stomach, though most begin on the inside lining of the stomach – these are called adenocarcinomas. Stomach cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, but is less common in the UK where around 5,000 people are diagnosed with it each year.
Stomach cancer tends to affect older people – around half occur in people over 75 years.
You have a good chance of being cured if you diagnose and treat stomach cancer early. However, symptoms usually only occur once it’s more advanced, which means the outlook for stomach cancer is not as good as many other cancers. Treatment in the later stages of stomach cancer can slow its progress.
Early signs of stomach cancer include:
Many of these symptoms are associated with other conditions (such as a stomach ulcer) which can make it difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms of more advanced stomach cancer include:
Your GP will discuss your symptoms and examine your stomach for any swellings or tenderness. If they think stomach cancer could be a possibility, they’ll refer you to a specialist for tests. To check your general health and rule out other conditions, tests include:
Tests to diagnose stomach cancer include:
If you’ve been diagnosed with stomach cancer, further tests may be needed to assess the best treatment. These include:
The exact cause of stomach cancer is unknown. However, lifestyle factors are linked to three in four stomach cancers. These include:
Other factors that increase your chances of getting it include:
Treatment options vary depending on the stage of the stomach cancer, whether it’s spread and your general health. Treatment may aim to:
The main treatments for stomach cancer are:
You may have a combination of these treatments. For example, chemoradiotherapy – a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Even if it’s not possible to cure your tumour, treatment can help control the growth and ease your symptoms.