What is gastric cancer?

Gastric cancer is cancer of the stomach. Adenocarcinoma, an abnormal growth on the inner lining of the stomach wall, is the most common form of gastric cancer.

What are the risk factors for gastric cancer?

Gastric cancer is strongly associated with heliobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, chronic swelling and inflammation of the stomach (atrophic gastritis) and the consumption of salted, pickled, and smoked foods.

Other risk factors include:

  • Asian or South American Ethnicity
  • Family history of stomach cancer
  • Presence of a polyp larger than 2 cm
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Smoking
  • Male gender
  • Age over 65
  • Family cancer syndromes, such as hereditary nonpolyopsis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and Li Fraumeni Syndrome, which increase risk of colorectal cancer and slightly increase stomach cancer risk
  • Family history of breast cancer; people carrying mutations of the inherited genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, may also have a higher rate of stomach cancer.

Who is at highest risk of developing gastric cancer?

The highest rate of gastric cancer occurs in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Chile, Brazil, and Iceland (and among natives of those countries even if they no longer live there). About 21,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with stomach cancer each year.

Is gastric cancer passed through families?

People in families with family cancer syndromes such as hereditary nonpolyopsis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and Li Fraumeni Syndrome are at higher risk of colorectal cancer and gastric cancer. A family history of breast cancer, including presence of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, also increases the risk of stomach cancer. People with defects of the CDH1 gene have close to a 100% chance of developing gastric cancer.

How serious is gastric cancer?

Gastric cancer is curable if it is detected in early stages. If it is not found until advanced stages, and surgery is no longer possible, the survival rate is about 50% at five years after diagnosis.

How is stomach cancer treated?

Gastric cancer is treated by surgical removal of the stomach and the nodes adjacent to the stomach. In some cases, surgery can be performed using minimally invasive approaches and robotic assistance.