Stomach Cancer Treatment

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Treating stomach cancer takes experience, expertise, compassion, and collaboration. You'll find all of this and more at UVA Health.

UVA Health is a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center. This title honors our leadership in cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. We're the first such center in Virginia.

Stomach Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA Health

You can rely on UVA Health for a team-based approach to GI cancer care. Our staff includes specialists in every type of GI cancer.

We use highly advanced tools to make accurate diagnoses earlier and choose the best treatment for you. And our doctors work closely with our researchers to bring you targeted, life-saving therapies.

We have expertise in all the treatment options for stomach cancer. These include:

  • Surgery
    • Endoscopic mucosal resection
    • Subtotal gastrectomy
    • Total gastrectomy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Combined Treatment

What is Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the stomach. Stomach cancer can develop in any part of the stomach and spread to other organs through tumor growth, the bloodstream, or the lymphatic system.

The stomach has five layers of tissue. The innermost layer is called the mucosa. This is where most stomach cancers begins. This type of tumor is called an adenocarcinoma.

Less common stomach cancers include:

  • Lymphoma — a cancer of the immune system; sometimes found in the stomach wall
  • Gastric stomal tumors — tumors of the stomach wall
  • Carcinoid tumors — tumors of the hormone-producing cells of the stomach

What Causes Stomach Cancer?

Some risk factors for stomach cancer you can't control. But it's important to be treated for Barrett's esophagitis or a Helicobacter pylori infection. These conditions can increase your chance of stomach cancer. A healthy diet can lower your risk.

Other things that increase your risk for stomach cancer include:

  • Over age 50
  • Gender: twice as common in men
  • Geography: Japan, Korea, parts of Eastern Europe, and Latin America experience higher rates
  • Race: higher rates in Hispanics and African-Americans
  • Diet
    • High intake of smoked, salted, pickled food and meat, high starch/low fiber foods
    • Low intake of certain vegetables (e.g., garlic, scallions, onions, chives, leeks)
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Previous stomach surgery
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Ménétrier disease (a disease that causes large folds in the stomach lining)
  • Blood type A
  • Familial cancer syndromes: hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer and familial adenomatous polyposis
  • Family history of stomach cancer
  • Stomach polyps

Can You Feel Stomach Cancer?

Tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Indigestion, heartburn
  • Abdominal pain or vague abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Stomach bloating or sense of fullness after eating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Bleeding in vomit or stool
  • Stool that has turned black or tarry
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fluid swelling in abdomen

Stomach Cancer Prevention

The rate of stomach cancer in the U.S. has declined over the past 60 years. Why is this? The change from salting and pickling foods to refrigerating foods for preservation is thought to have played a large role in this decrease.

Stomach cancer can't always be prevented but these can help lower your risk:

  • Avoid diets high in salted, pickled, and smoked foods
  • Eat at least five servings of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods a day
  • Limit red meat intake
  • Don't smoke or drink alcohol

The moment you're diagnosed with cancer is one you may never forget. At UVA Health, we'll do all we can to help you through your journey.